Sermons from March 2022
A megadrought has been slowly choking the western United States for the past twenty-two years. The war in Ukraine has devastated cities and displaced more than ten million people. The COVID pandemic disrupted international supply chains, triggering global economic problems. Even in our modern world, things hang in a delicate balance that always seems to favor the small minority of wealthy individuals who own most of the world’s wealth. It should not surprise us, then, that people feel the need to accrue and protect wealth. Jesus looks at the same world filled with the same problems and comes to a radically different conclusion: Generously give wealth to others rather than collecting it for oneself. But Jesus’ conclusion does not merely promote generosity in an out-of-balance world; it assumes a fundamentally different understanding of the world that leads one to practice charity. As we explore discipleship to Jesus this year, we will use this lesson to consider practical applications to his teachings about generosity.
Jesus did not hide the cost of discipleship to him. In fact, he repeatedly and openly talked about its high cost. While we should pay attention to Jesus’ teachings about ‘counting the cost’ of following him, we need to be careful that we do not place such emphasis on the cost that we inadvertently portray Christianity as a burden. ‘Counting the cost’ should be balanced against the overwhelming weight of Jesus’ worthy identity that far surpasses the cost and that motivates us to commit ourselves to following him. Therefore, we will consider John’s portrait of Jesus in Revelation to remind us of his worthy identity and its meaning for us.
Luke 14:25-33 — We are cost-conscious people. We compare prices. We shop for the best deal. We want the most ‘bang-for-the-buck’. That impulse leads to the common wisdom that success in the marketplace requires a price low enough to attract consumers’ attention without creating suspicion. And then there is Jesus… Jesus desires disciples. Even though he wants people to follow him, he often seemingly discourages people from doing that very thing by setting ‘unreasonably’ high requirements for being his disciple.…