Thursday, September 8, 2016

Sept 4, 2016 Sermon: "Casual Christians?"

Stephen Baldwin
OT: Jeremiah 18.1-11
NT: Luke 14.25-33
Casual Christians?

            These are tough words from Jesus.  Whoever does not hate his family…whoever does not hate his own life…whoever does not give up all his possessions…cannot be my disciple.  Does he mean that we must leave everyone and everything behind to be a Christian? 
            Let me ask you another way.  When an Energizer commercial says, “It keeps going and going and going,” does that mean you’ll never have to replace the battery?  Of course not.  It means their batteries are supposed to last longer than others. 
            When a commercial for Citi Bank says, “Citi never sleeps,” do they mean you can go to the bank and it will be open 24/7?  Heavens no.  The bank opens after you go to work and closes before you get off; we all know that! 
When a Disney commercial says, “The happiest place on earth,” they leave out the part about heat and lines and crowds and the most expensive tickets on earth.  They’re trying to make a point that you can come there, leave your daily life behind, and find some happiness.
When an AT&T commercial says, “Reach out and touch someone,” does it mean you can reach through the phone and touch someone?  Of course not.  It simply means they help you connect with people. 
So let’s revisit our earlier question.  When Jesus says, “Whoever does not hate his family, give up his own life, and give away all his possessions cannot be my disciple,” does he mean we must leave everything and everyone behind to be a Christian?  Of course not.  He’s making a point using strong, tough language.  He means that there is a cost to discipleship.  Being a Christian is not something we can do casually or occasionally or half-heartedly.  There is a cost to discipleship. 
Isn’t that true of anything you do?  If you want to get in shape physically, you have to work at it.  Eat right.  Exercise.  If you want to get in shape financially, you have to work at it.  Save.  Mange spending.  Make good decisions.  If you want to get in shape spiritually as a disciple of Jesus Christ, you have to work at it.  Pray.  Study.  Love.  Serve.
That’s the cost of discipleship.  You have to give up some of those things that matter to you in order to do what Christ compels you to do.  He’s not asking you to leave your family or to give away everything you own or to give up your life.  He’s asking you to make a commitment.  To make an effort.  To be a disciple.  He’s asking us to be more than casual Christians. 
People followed Jesus everywhere he went.  For most people that would be enough.  To have crowds following you is a dream come true for many in today’s celebrity culture.  Not for Jesus.  It wasn’t enough to have people follow him around.  He wanted disciples.  He wanted people who were ready to make a commitment and people who were ready to make an effort to live out their faith.  Are we those people?  Are we ready to make a commitment each and every day we wake up?  Are we willing to make an effort as disciples of Christ each and every day we live in God’s world?