Forming community transforming lives

This post is part of the ON THE WAY sermon series at St Mark’s Anglican Church, Casino July/October 2022


Once again we are served a smorgasbord of classic texts in today’s lectionary:

Jeremiah visits the potter
A whole NT book (Philemon) in one go!
Jesus seeking to turn away his wannabe followers

THE SCENE

We are still on the road (the way) to Jerusalem,
to the cross, 
to the future

Large crowds were travelling with him.
Success looks like this!
As Jesus heads south he attracts additional disciples
A few from each village

More and more people are joining every week
Things are on a roll
All the spots in the OpShop roster have been filled
There is a waiting list for volunteers

Everyone wants to be part of this exciting new thing

HOW (NOT) TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE

Jesus seems not to have read the 1936 best-seller by Dale Carnegie
He is not collecting Facebook friends
Not gathering followers on Twitter

In this week’s confronting “Good News” there are 2 affronting statements
Two slaps in the face (to pick up a meme from this week in US politics)
We might summarise them together as: COUNT THE COST

COSTLY DISCIPLESHIP

Discipleship is not a diversion for people who have everything
Discipleship demands everything we have and all that we are

Let’s take those hard words in reverse order

We begin with the last of his put-downs for wannabe followers:

Question: Have you got what it takes?
Hint: everything!
Clarification: you will lose everything (that you think you possess)

“none of you can become my disciple 
if you do not give up all your possessions …”

We have heard those words so many times

But have we ever once taken them seriously?

How much are we prepared to lose for this Jesus project?

In the first of his challenges

Jesus raised the ante

His remarks are so extreme that they surely have to be metaphors

And he was a master of hyperbole

To be my disciple, you need to …
hate your parents
and your spouse
and your children
as well as your siblings
and even your own life.

Jesus calls that set of radical choices,
“carry your cross and follow me …”

There is no alternative model of discipleship
Everyone who follows Jesus walks this path

This is how Jesus did it
If we want to walk his way, then is how it goes

Radical grace
Demands radical faith
Expressed in radical discipleship

Authentic discipleship shapes lives that are different
Where “cheap grace” is rejected as a scam
Where the cross (God’s unique call on our faithfulness) is embraced

It will take different forms
Not every follower of Jesus sold their property & abandoned families

It is the task of a lifetime
Not a sudden act to impress others with our spiritual character
But rather a sustained decision to love others
In the name and in the spirit of Jesus

It may cost us everything
And it may transform others as well as ourselves

We are forming community and transforming lives

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