“Cost of following Jesus”
June 26th 2016
Introduction: This is a very timely text in light of our up-coming Annual Conference in Greensboro N.C. Jesus makes the deliberate choice to face the conflict, rejection, condemnation, and even death itself for the sake of the good news of God’s love and saving grace for all people.
I dare say that, as with many conferences in the past, there will be those who will come away from conference un-happy with the results of the business and those who will come away thinking the church got it right and it was the best conference ever held.
Dr. Luke, being the Doctor that he is, has a keen eye for details and for timing. He is writing his version of the gospel in a very logical fashion. He introduces in our text the coming trials and testing of Jesus to be the messiah, to be the savior of the world, the very presence of God in human form. This is such a powerful text for us at time like this in our denominations history.
This mornings message is going to be a little different. I want to take each of the four words I mentioned above and share with you my perception at this point as to how they appear for Annual Conference. The four words are; conflict, rejection, condemnation, and death.
A.) The conflict of Jesus day was along the lines of challenging the status quo in many aspects of cultural life.
1. In politics: Donald vs. Hillary
a. What was the hot button issue in Jesus day? Rome, Pharisees vs. Sadducees and all the other political parties and where they stood.
2. In economics: free market vs. socialism
a. Obama care, open or closed borders for refugees, scandal over emails etc.
3. In religion: liberal vs. conservative.
a. Sexual orientation and what the Bible has to say about it. Perhaps even deeper is the challenge to Biblical authority in our lives today.
A.) We seem to be living in a time of great social change and upheaval.
1. The social norms and organization of the past is being challenged and perhaps even reshaped.
2. Jesus stepped into a period of human history not unlike our own.
3. He challenged and introduced a totally new way of thinking and acting.
4. If I can sum it up in a few words, treating all persons with the respect that they deserve as a child of God.
5. He challenged life styles and political power, economics and all that life is about, and this without owning anything that we are aware of.
6. His message of love and forgiveness are still challenging life styles and politics and people who want power still do not like the message!
7. Maybe they get but they just don’t want to live with it and put it into practice?
A.) The leaders of Jesus day condemned him and his message.
1. They would listen and challenge him with questions but when it came right down to it they really didn’t like the message or him.
2. Nothing has changed has it.
3. We hear the message of God’s saving love and forgiving grace and want it for ourselves but when it needs to be applied to someone different from us well now that just can’t be can it?
4. We still condemn those who would challenge us and speak prophetically to us.
5. We are called to be living examples of peace in our homes, neighborhoods, work places and schools, in the larger community and world as well.
6. We see in our text that Jesus set his face, so to speak, towards Jerusalem and ultimately his death on the cross.
7. In doing so he deals with the conflict of the ages, the separation of humanity from it’s creator, from God and how to reconcile all of creation.
A.) It is in his death that Jesus accomplishes his victory over the conflict.
1. How we need to know and understand the message and meaning of his death.
2. We leap over his death to his resurrection and that is important but his death has a powerful message for us as well.
3. It is in his dying that we are made worthy to enter the presence of holy God.
4. It is in his dying that peace is made.
5. It is in our becoming a part of his mission that we are able to overcome all that would separate us from God.
Conclusion to message: What is it that stands in the way of us as individuals and as a denomination from truly fulfilling God’s call for us as reconcilers, as peace makers? I am willing to lay down my personal positions and desires for the sake of the gospel of peace.
Our text for today carries in it a message of tolerance. Among those who claim Jesus as their Lord and Savior there is no place for intolerance or discrimination of any sort. We have been taught to love our enemies and to bless anyone who curses us. We must examine just what it is that motivates us, God’s love or something personal. The challenge of this text is for Jesus’ followers, you and me, to set aside anything and everything that would keep us from making a complete commitment to sharing the love of God. It will require everything of us and it is not easy, but the rewards are heavenly(sorry, couldn’t help myself).
My hope and dream for this years Annual Conference is that the delegates who come will above all else seek to genuinely love, hear, and respect one another. That they will seek first and foremost the kingdom of God, that we will seek to fulfill our calling for God’s glory and our neighbors good.