Not A Fan
As we begin this morning I want you to imagine the scene with me. It’s been a long day, and finally you get to the point where you can just go sit on the couch for a few moments. As you sink a little deeper into the comfort of your couch and turn on the TV when a political commercial interrupts your peace. There on the television you see a candidate standing in an office, with an american flag in the background and they look into the camera an say, “I want your vote, but you need to know when you vote for me it will cost you your homes and your family. I want you to follow me, but understand that when you cast your vote for me, I am going raise your taxes and lower your wages. When you join me, you will have to cast aside everything that you love and trust me. So in this upcoming election vote for me.”
What they are proposing is so ridiculous that you don’t even know how to respond. You’re just puzzled, I mean why would anyone try to advertise themselves that way? That makes no sense, and we immediately have to ask ourselves if the cost we are being asked to make is worth what we are getting in return.
In the text that Scott read for us this morning, we are told that there are these crowds gathering and following Jesus. By our standards, this is the moment that Jesus had been waiting for. This is when the revolution starts, but go back to our text for this morning and we need to read it one more time. Jesus makes it very clear what it means to be a follower of His. Lets read Luke 14:25-33 (Read Text)
As Christ makes His way to Jerusalem the crowds are gathering around to hear the teachings of this young influential rabbi. He has already taught such amazing lesson, blessed are the peacemakers, love your neighbors, do unto others, love God. You can sense the excitement as the crowd presses in to hear the next great insight that would come; but the words the crowd hears on this day were unlike any others they had ever heard. If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.
That must have floored them, Jesus had been speaking so eloquently about love has He changed His mind. Did He really go from love your enemies, to hate your mother. Love those you barely know, and hate those you know best? It was unnerving. I mean He’s not discussing something that’s relatively insignificant or trivial. He’s not talking about in-laws, He’s talking about flesh and blood, He’s talking about, I carried you for nine months, my feet swelled to the size of bedroom slippers, and I was in heavy labor for a week and a half. Is that who I am called to hate?
One of our struggles with what Jesus is saying here is that we have a tendency to turn Jesus into just another politician. I grew up during the Religious Rights heyday, where the church and the republican party got together and advocated that we could save our country through political means. I understand what they wanted to do, and I am thankful for anyone who wants to point people to Jesus. But one of the side effects is that we attached God to a political party and Jesus becomes just another politician. That’s why we struggle so much with what Jesus is saying here, it’s so anti-political.
Someone who is running for office wants to draw large crowds, and has a group of talking heads that help them craft speeches that appeal to the masses. Jesus has definitely drawn a crowd, but there are no talking points in this sermon. The essence of what Jesus is saying is that To be a disciple of Jesus you must be committed to Him above everything else.
Does that sound like the commitment level we find in our communities of faith today? I have worked and worshiped with a fair number of congregations in different parts of our country and world. In every community of faith there have been the folks who show up on Christmas and Easter. Then there are the folks who attend a few Sundays a month who are content to just come and get through it. And here are others who show up every week, sing the songs, take communion and really feel like they have done a god job compartmentalizing their lives between their church life and their real life.
Now Jesus stands up in front of this crowd and says an very politically incorrect thing: if you are not willing to give up everything this world has to offer in order to have a relationship with Him then you have deceived yourself; you’re are nothing more than a fan. If you claim to wear His name then you are claiming to be a follower, and Jesus says that true followers must give up everything to follow where He leads. I don’t know how to twist that to say something else, It’s pretty clear when Jesus says, no one can become my disciple without giving up everything for me.
I’m pretty sure that didn’t sit real well with the large crowds that were following Jesus that day. Up to this point they liked Him, they wanted to hear what He had to say, and if you asked them they would have told you that they were followers of His. They were willing and even anxious to follow Jesus providing the cost was not to high or the demands too great. They were willing to go to church, pray, sing, put some money in the collection plate, but that’s as far as we go with that. They wanted Jesus to solve their money problems, relationship problems, health problems; but they probably got disillusioned when following Jesus didn’t make everything gumdrops, lollipops, unicorns, and rainbows. This large crowd was filled with casual fans and not committed followers.
That’s why Jesus is very clear here, there is no political spin. Jesus needs us to understand that if you are going To be a disciple of Jesus you must be committed to Him above everything else.
Let’s go back to verse 26, Remember that Scott read out of the New Century Translation: If you want to be my follower you must love me more than your own father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, more than your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple.
Christ was not looking for affection as much as He was looking for loyalty. He was asking who holds your primary allegiance, your family or Christ? The premise is laid down in Matthew 6:24: No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. A disciple cannot serve God and his job, or God and his family, or God and himself. If God is not in first place then God is in the wrong place.
Now don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean that we neglect our family or our friends; it means that God has to take first place in our life. I understand that your job is a priority, and your friendships are a priority, and your family is a priority but they are not THE priority. As you draw closer to God, and become more Christ like this amazing thing happens: you also become a better father, or mother, a better husband or wife, a better employee or employer, and a better friend. Christ rewards faithfulness but it is up to you to be faithful.
Followers are called to be faithful with everything that God gives them. We often forget that God has given us everything, our family, our friends, our job our health, our money, our talents, everything we have, was given to us by God. Now God says don’t fall into the temptation of looking at the creation and forgetting about the one who created. It’s not the creation that deserves your allegiance, We must make the Creator our first priority, and give Him our best.
This about it this way, what would you do if you learned that Jesus was going to come to your house for dinner next Thursday night? Would you cancel your other plans? Would you worry about how the house looked, what you were going to serve? Would you break out the good china and use the linen napkins? What would be on the menu? Maybe Filet Mignon with all of the sides with a Red Velvet Cake for dessert. If Jesus wanted to come to our house for a meal, no one would question the cost or extravagance of the meal.
So when Jesus says that he wants to come and not spend one 3 hour meal but a life time, an eternity, with you, do we still live extravagantly for Him of do we get to the point when we decide it’s okay to serve God some of this? (Hold up a can of Spam.)
I know some of you will object and say that you like Spam, but have you ever looked at what’s in this stuff? Half of the stuff I can’t pronounce and the other things, like pig lips, I don’t want to. Spam is made from the leftover parts. Jesus is warning us that we can get comfortable and start to take God and His gifts for granted. Instead of giving Him our best we serve God the spam or leftovers in our life. We offer Him our left over money, time, and talents. We are willing to give God the filler, the worst part of what we have, that is provided we don’t need it. Does that sound like So no one can become my disciple without giving up everything for me?
Now I understand that it’s not easy to tithe, and it’s not easy to give God precious time out of a day that’s already too short. The great part is that God knows that as well, but He never said that it was going to be easy. Do you really believe that Christ came to this earth, lived for thirty plus years, suffered horrible torture, and died on a cross so we could come to church Sunday morning, throw a five dollar bill in the plate and squeak into heaven when we die. That level of commitment wasn’t what He expected two thousand years ago and it’s not what He expects today.
If we are going to be the type of Christian that Christ wants us to be it will have to effect our entire life. It isn’t just supposed to affect our behavior on Sunday morning it is supposed to have a direct, dramatic impact on our entire life, Monday through Sunday, day in and day out, 24 hours a day; it is supposed to be a life changing experience.
Which brings us to our third point this morning and that is To be a disciple of Jesus you must be committed to Him above everything else.
In our hearts Jesus must come before our loved ones, self-interest, possessions, careers, hobbies, goals in life, and even our very lives. And this commitment to Jesus is tested daily. In verse 26 Jesus says that this commitment level applies to anyone who comes to me. Jesus is not talking to a special group of Christians like elders, preachers, or even mature believers. He is calling everyone who wants to be one of His followers.
Following Jesus will interfere with your closest relationships, this is not some hypothetical situation. Maybe it’s too easy to be a Christian in The Model City, I mean what has it actually cost you to follow Jesus? There are places in this world where choosing Jesus means losing everything. The first person I ever baptized was a young man named Elio Cho, in Belize. We were at the river watching someone put on Christ when Elio jumped in the water, saying he was ready to give his life to Christ. While that may not sound fantastic, what we learned later was that Elio’s family disowned him, because of his decision. He told his family he wanted to follow Jesus and at that moment he was considered dead to his family. In the face of losing everything, Elio was willing to give his life to the Messiah that first gave His life for him.
Jesus must come before our closest relationships, personal desires, goals, interests, and even needs. Following Christ comes before our bank accounts, public image, and jobs. If following Jesus means forfeiting these things, then we must be willing to do that. Again this is not a hypothetical situation. Following Jesus will many times mean making such sacrifices.
Finally this morning we need to know that To be a disciple of Jesus you must be committed to Him above everything else
Jesus says in verses 28-33, that we must count the cost of being His follower. In His two illustrations, Jesus is expressing one simple point, we must consider the cost and commitment necessary to follow Him. He doesn’t want people to make a commitment to Him without understanding and seriously thinking about what is involved in this decision. Jesus does not want a half-hearted, blind commitment that expects only blessings.
Too many of us have bought into this false theology that being a Christian immediately makes life easier. Follow God and get a better job, never get sick, have children that are polite and pleasant and you never fight with your spouse. If you will just acknowledge God then you will have the perfect life. There are two problems with this theology. First, Christians have problems, and sometimes we have lots of them. Christians lose their jobs, go bankrupt, get cancer, deal with hurricanes and tornados, and face the struggles of living in a broken world with other broken people.
Secondly, we were not created for this world, we are called to live in it, spread light into the darkness, plant and water, and then go home. Christ’s call for us to take up our own cross and follow Him is a call for commitment, not of comfort.
While I understand that salvation is a free gift of God, that doesn’t mean that it’s cheep. The last thing we read in our text this morning was that you must give up everything you have to be my follower. That’s His line in the sand, anyone of you who does not give up everything, cannot be My disciple. I can’t remember many sermons I have heard or preached that touched that subject. I have preached on salvation that’s a free gift, but I repent that I haven’t preached on the cost of serving Christ.
Think about it this way: imagine that I wanted to climb Mount Everest, but because it costs about $70,000 to make that climb, it was doubtful that I would ever get to realize my dream. Now suppose someone heard of my desire and offered to pay for the entire expedition. They would buy all the expensive clothing and gear; they would pay for my transportation, the guides, and the training. It’s totally free for me. But if I accept his free offer, I must commit myself to the difficult training, putting forth the effort, and even risking my very life, because many good climbers die trying to climb Mount Everest. While the trip is free, it involves a big cost.
Christ is calling us to make sure we are willing to pay the cost before we make the commitment. Jesus wants to know if we are in this for the long haul, if we are willing to follow Him no matter what happens or what you’re required to give up? There is only one way to truly follow Jesus. Followers must be willing to give up everything.
This morning you need to ask yourself if you have left everything to follow after Him? Do you remember when Peter and Andrew were called to follow Jesus? They left their jobs to follow Him.
When James and John were called to follow Jesus they left their families to follow Him.
What have you left behind to follow Jesus? You cannot be His disciple if you do not give everything up and follow Him.
Questions For You To Consider
Read Luke 14:25-33
How do you think these words impacted the crowd?
What do you think Jesus was trying to do by speaking this way to the crowd?
Re-state verse 26 in your own words.
Why would Jesus want us to hate our family members?
(Remember that Jeremy read from the New Living Translation Luke 14:26 If you want to be my follower you must love me more than your own father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, more than your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple)
Why would Jesus want us to hate our own life?
After Jesus, what is the second most important thing in your world?
How could this become a competitor to following Jesus?
When Jesus calls us to take up a cross, what do you think it means for us today?
In what ways are “everyday” trials different from bearing a cross?
(Traffic jams, a cold, even facing a life-threatening illness are part of life on a broken planet. Not the same as paying a price for doing the right thing.)
Would Jesus really want us to suffer or pay a price for following him?
What is the meaning of the stories about building a house or facing an enemy army?
How do these stories fit with verses 26-27?
What has it cost you to follow Jesus? Why are you willing to pay such a price?