Sermon - 08 09 19
Published by Yvonne Callaghan on Friday, 20 September 2019 00:00
This weeks sermon.. Bargain Jesus
This week as the schools and colleges went back
As the offices opened
And people returned from their summer holidays
The phones began ringing off the wall in the office
And the email’s kept began arriving at incredible speed..
Diana and I took a lunch break
We nipped into Richmond
and found somewhere to enjoy lunch..
then … not only content to have some lunch
Diana and I visited a couple of charity shops..
Now I love a bargain
And I love getting unexpected bargains..
So I popped into Oxfam
and found a couple of lovely bargains..
But some bargains as we all know are not what they seem to be
At first sight..
And I think this is what Jesus is saying today
He’s saying I’m not a cheap
And following me is not cheap
I’m a good deal..
But following me is costly
and demands a lot
Often more than you want to give…
So .. how does he say this
Well if we take the Gospel reading at face value
Jesus tells us we cannot love our family
Or our friends..
We have not to value our own lives
And we have to take up our cross
So .. what does that mean
where the fourth commandment is concerned
honour your father and mother
Or as Jesus summed up all the commandments
and told us to love others
And to love ourselves as we are love
It all seems incongruent
The words we read today
don’t match the Jesus I know and follow
Jesus cannot ever mean two different things when he speaks.
He cannot tell us to love others
And then hate all others who are different ..
That’s not the way I see Jesus work
That’s not the way I experience Jesus..
so lets take another look at the text
Let’s see what Jesus is really saying..
Jesus was being followed by the crowd
The crowd who had seen the miracles and healings
And the crowd wanted some of that healing
The crowd wanted a miracle for themselves..
So Jesus uses something called HYPERBOLE
Heightening to get something across to others..
We’ve all used it..
“Ive told you a million times not to do that”
But among the exaggeration
the truth is .. following Jesus demands a lot of us
It is also life giving ..
But.. these statements we read
Are not quite an accurate translation
You see when we compare other story’s
Where Jesus has used the same Aramaic word
which we have interpreted for hate
The word itself actually means “loves less than”..
So to follow Jesus
Means you have to love your family less than him..
Now that explanation may be a little better
But it’s still really uncomfortable
Because if the translation is true
We have to love others less..
I believe that what Jesus is really saying
is that the love we have for our family
Or even ourselves
When compared with the love Jesus has for us
And asks of us
Makes our human experience of love so much less
than the all-consuming
unconditional love Jesus has for us..
in-fact it is so much less ..
that love can almost feel like hatred..
Then Jesus tells us we have to carry our cross to follow him
To be his disciple
Those words would have shocked those who were there
Remember how familiar crucifixion was
And not only familiar
But a shaming
Demeaning painful way to die
If you remember the words of Jeremiah
God says he is the potter
We are the clay
And God can shape us to be the person he want us to be
If we let him..
and as the clay is re-shaped…
it’s still the same Clay
As we are reshaped …
It’s still us .. our DNA …
Becoming the ones we are created to be..
And many people have died
Taken up their cross
If it were judged by the worlds standards..
There are many famous people in history and in scripture
Who have taken up their cross
And done what the world would class as stupid
St Francis was called a fool for following Jesus
And he became a fool for Christ..
For Julian on Norwich
Following Jesus with integrity
Meant locking herself away in a room,
praying and writing of her encounters with God
through her self-appointed isolation
for Mother Teresa following Christ meant serving the lepers and the poor of Calcutta
For Dietrich Bonhoeffer it meant taking himself back to Germany from the safety of a teaching post in the US as the rise of Hitler and his policies took hold.
For Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. following Jesus meant taking up the charge for Racial Equality in the US
Bonhoeffer never saw himself being a Martyr
Nor did Mother Teresa see herself as a Saint
Dr. King never saw himself as the voice and giving his life for a greater cause
Julian of Norwich never saw herself as a mystic
Mother Terresa would have exchanged places with each of those whom she served
Hard though those things are
Following Jesus is even more than that too..
How many of us find forgiving others easy?
That’s what we are commanded to do
The Lord’s prayer,
tells us that as we accept the forgiveness
Of God bought by the cross
That we too are to forgive others
That’s part of carrying the cross…
Is that something you can do?
I know it’s often something that takes me time
And that’s foolish to the world
Being a true follower of Jesus means we have no choice..
And that’s the problem
Many want the bargain Jesus
We don’t want to commit fully to follow..
So. We either stop following
Or do the pick and mix..
We choose which pieces of being a follower we accept..
We want to follow our way
For our fix..
And that’s when others notice
That’s when others who do not follow Jesus
Who are not disciples notice
That’s when people will say
“I thought you were a Christian..
That’s not how Christians behave.. “
We are seen
And judged by others
Even those who don’t have a faith
Have expectations of those of us who do..
I suppose we can align it to the political situation in the UK at the moment
Those who follow a political party
blindly without integrity
Are not being true to the party or to the country
They are seen to lie
They are seen to dodge the truth
and the outcomes of statements
And we judge them for it..
We too are judged by others for being followers of Jesus
And how we behave..
Yet being a true follower of Jesus
means we are willing to follow him in all things
Our belief in him does not change
as our life circumstances change
In the good and the bad
Followers of Jesus
hold on to the truth Jesus brings and speaks
It is the integrity
The witness that have inspired many
This is what Jesus referred to as COUNTING THE COST OF FOLLOWING HIM
The Lord is not looking for Bargain Hunters
We can’t pick and choose how we want to serve Him
We can’t come to the Lord and to the Church
to see what we can get out of it
Bargain Hunters look for the best deal
The Lord is looking for our Total Commitment
And our commitment continues to cost us
Cost us our all…
And when we fail
Because we will and do fail as followers of Jesus
Others may judge us
But Jesus just asks us to simple acknowledge those failures and come back to him
Again and again
That’s the gift of following him..
It costs us everything
But gives us His all..