THE COST OF DISCIPLESHIP

Sunday morning’s sermon was preached by Rev Deborah, and was based on Jeremiah 18:1-11 and Luke 14:25-33.

Imagine a politician standing on a soap box, addressing a crowd.

‘If you want to follow me you are voting to lose your homes and families. You will need to pay higher taxes and receive lower wages to enable a fair distribution of wealth; you are deciding on losing all that you love best – so who is on my side? Who is going to vote for me?’

Not the best way to gain political supporters – people would either be heckling or just stood in stunned silence. Why on earth would someone want to advertise themselves like this? Why would you want someone to follow someone like this?

And yet this is exactly what Jesus is saying in today’s gospel reading.

‘You want to be my disciple do you? Well, you have to hate your family, give up your possessions and get ready for a nasty death.’ Hardly the way to win friends and influence them!

Today’s gospel pulls no punches. It is demanding and costly. We are given a stark challenge.

DSC00133Will you be my disciple?

‘How much will it cost you to follow me?’

‘How much are you willing to give up?’

It is quite shocking to be told to hate your family, especially since Christianity advocates family values and yet it is not so much about hating but about priorities, about putting God first rather than anything else. It is been a recurring theme in the last few weeks of Luke – ‘where your heart is your treasure is.’ Putting God first – above family, possessions and wealth.

Not only that, we are told to be prepared to die. Taking up your cross wasn’t simply a figure of speech in Jesus’ day. As the first Christians reflected on the significance of Jesus death it would seem to carry a message for them too, to follow Jesus was to risk all – putting Christ first.

Being a Christian, a follower of Christ is costly. It requires sacrifice. Jesus almost uses a cost/benefit analysis model with the illustration of building a tower.

‘Supposing one of you wants to build a tower; what will you do? You will first of all sit down and work out what it will cost, to see whether you have enough to finish it. Otherwise, when you have laid the foundation and then can’t finish it, everyone who sees it will begin to make fun of you.

‘Here’s the fellow; they’ll say, ‘who began to build but couldn’t finish’

So let’s build that tower. What are the costs of being a disciple of Jesus?

Boxes with costs on one side and benefits on the other. The costs include:cardboard-box-220256_960_720

  • Our time
  • Our family
  • Our pride
  • Our finance – how we use and spend our money
  • Our worldly possessions
  • Stepping out of our comfort zone
  • Our security
  • Our desires

The boxes are built up into a tower.

The cost of discipleship is both costly and demanding.

On Wednesday Rev Caroline Greenwood was licensed by Bishop Mark. The reading was Luke 4:38-end. Bishop Mark focused on the need for service, prayer and mission – not just for Caroline, but for all of us. Jesus healed Simon’s mother in law and
immediately she served him and his disciples. We then hear how Jesus needed to go to a quiet place and pray. Then Jesus says that he must proclaim the kingdom. We too are called to service, prayer and mission.

To follow Jesus we must be prepared for the cost – as shown by our tower – be that stepping out of our comfort zone, our use of time, putting aside our own desires or any of the other items on our tower.

Are we up for the challenge?

You might be asking why. Our first reading this morning was from Jeremiah, who was asked by God to go to the Potter’s house.  It would have been a very common sight, to see the creation of simple pottery. It wouldn’t be finely wrought and expotter-1139047_960_720pensive objects that only the wealthiest Judeans could afford. The pots made would have been the everyday ware of a typical Judean household, serviceable, perhaps not perfect in shape or colour, but useable by a family to hold grain or wine to sustain common life.You may not have noticed, but over in this corner we have a small group of people who have been working with clay this morning.

The word potter, in this case, is based on the verb, vatsar, which means to fashion or form, and it is the image given is one of God, as the potter, shaping each one of us on the divine potter’s wheel.

I have asked each of the group to make a model/figure of themselves.

Let’s have a look at the models that they have very carefully made, just as God lovingly made us.clay-figures-1166724_960_720.jpg

Jesus told his disciples that following him was all about love – loving God and each other. We talked about the building of the tower and the costs. But what about the benefits? Let’s turn the tower around. It is God’s love for each one of us and our world that is the reason for being a follower of Christ.

Let’s represent that love in clay. Can you spare a little bit of clay from your model to make a heart?

Each of them has given up a tiny bit of themselves to make these tiny fragile hearts.

However Jesus’ words in today’s gospel reading show that he won’t settle for just a bit of us: he wants us to give up everything for him– for love. Can you re-shape your clay model into a heart shape? It is symbolic of us offering all that we have to God and God, shaping and moulding us, so that we reflect his love to others.

As they complete the task let us sing together the hymn ‘Take me Lord‘ and use it as a prayer to offer ourselves afresh to God.

Take me, Lord, use my life

In the way you wish to do.

Fill me, Lord, touch my heart

Till it always thinks of you.

Take me now, as I am,

This is all I can offer.

Here today, I the clay, will be moulded by my Lord.

Lord, I pray that each day

I will listen to your will.

Many times I have failed

But I know you love me still.

Teach me now, guide me Lord

Keep me close to you always.

Here today, I the clay, will be moulded by my Lord.

I am weak, fill me now

With your strength and set me free.

Make me whole, fashion me

So that you will live in me.

Hold me now in your hands,

form me now with your Spirit.

Here today, I the clay, will be moulded by my Lord.

As we do so let us use it as a prayer and offer ourselves afresh to God.

Advertisements

One thought on “THE COST OF DISCIPLESHIP

  1. We loved being with you at Caroline’s welcome Service! The sermon spoke very directly (and encouragingly) to us – thanks be to God and bless you all at St Margaret’s

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s