Friday, June 27, 2014

Proper 8

Proper 8
Matthew 10:37-39
29 June 2014

O God, because You have prepared for those who love You such good things as surpass our understanding, pour into our hearts such love towards You that we, loving Your above all things, may obtain Your promises, which exceed all that wed can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord. 

  And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. ESV

Many want to rise with Christ without first dying. The price of life with Christ is death to self. Conflict will come when Christ is your first love. When there is competing loves there will be conflict. The way of Christ is not easy. It is the way of the cross, a way of self-sacrifice.

1.       What constitutes worthiness?
A.      There is nothing wrong with loving father, mother, son or daughter per se. It is even commanded. Martin Luther would remind us, “We should fear and love God so that we do not despise or anger our parents and other authorities, but honor them, serve and obey them, love and cherish them.[1]  Jesus was obedient to Joseph even though he was not His biological father. He remained subject to Mary, His mother. Jonathan however disobeyed his father Saul in order to spare David’s life. He obeyed God rather than man. [2]

B.      The question Jesus asks is simple. Do you love them, “more than me?”  It’s a question of priority. Other loyalties must be defined. Who shall come first in your life? Whom do you love the best? Does Jesus come before spouse, child, or parent? Before your vocation, your hobbies, your sports team? Which is of a higher priority? Your position in the company pyramid or your status before your Savior?  Jesus demands that He come first. Even ahead of family. If members of the family do not share in this devotion to Christ, there is trouble in the home. In this case, Christ may become the cause of family dissension. Since Jesus is Lord, He cannot take second place to any other person. To be worthy of Christ, we must put Him first. And for some of you – that’s a huge burden! It’s a heavy cross!  Because the person you’re sleeping with, became angry. At you. This morning. Because you chose to go to church! And they don’t like it!  Brothers. Sisters. Are you willing to pray for that one? Who bears a cross alone? No one! Have compassion! Stand next to them. Listen to their need. Be a friend.

2.       Take up the cross.
A.      The pattern of Christ’s suffering is the outline of ministry. Found in the words of John the Baptizer. “He must increase while I must decrease.” [3]

In her book “Generation Me” author Jean Twenge put it this way, “In many ways, there’s no better time to be alive than right now. Think of all the advantages we have that earlier generations did not: television, cell phones, better medical care, computers, more education, less physical labor, the freedom to make our own choices, the ability to move to a more desirable city. These last two, however, begin to hint at the underlying problem. Our growing tendency to put the self-first leads to unparalleled freedom, but it also creates an enormous amount of pressure on us to stand alone.”[4]

B.        It really isn’t about you. It’s always about Jesus.  All too often, we forget that the invisible God is working things out according to His purpose. Not yours. God is free to do as He pleases. He owes no one anything. And yet… And yet, He chose to redeem you. He chose to send Jesus into our world. Into time and space. To become your substitute. To live a perfect life. For you. To bear your sin. To die your death. To rise again. To make you His own. And place His Spirit inside of you. To endow your with gifts. So you can be a sermon in shoes. So you can be His witness in this generation.

C.      This tells us that grace alone will make and keep you with Jesus. Your status in this life is not dependent on what you do. It is decided by whose you are. You are in Christ. Therefore, you can choose to do anything you want in this life. You are free. You are free to be anything you want. You can be a butcher, a baker, a candle maker. You are free to be cop a teacher or a farmer. You are free to be a line cook at a greasy spoon or a garbage man. You are free to be a truck driver, a plastic surgeon or stay at home mom.  “Whatever your hand finds it to do…do it with all your might.”[5]  “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord.” [6]Remember the Service Master cleaning service. In all you do - you are rendering service to the Master. What you do is a reflection of who you are.  

3.       Find life or lose it.
A.      Life, psyche, is the life principle. It refers to temporal life and what supports it. To lose that life in contrition and faith is the find eternal life. In other words, the life, which is lived on earth; a life that is lived in Christ, becomes a blessed life, which leads to life in the eternal kingdom of God.

B.      This again points to grace. Nothing in us but Christ’s enabling power toward us. He is your life source. It’s not purpose drive rather it is Spirit lead. Your life is not your own. Your life is rooted in Jesus. Your life has a purpose because, and only because, you are in Christ.  “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.[7] Paul reminds us, everything he has tried to be, everything he was, and everything he looked forward to pointed to Christ. From the time of his conversion until his martyrdom, every move he made was aimed at advancing the knowledge, gospel, and cause of Christ.

Life is something we cannot preserve. It cannot be placed in a museum. For safekeeping. And preservation. By its very nature, life must be given away. Each person must decide how he shall spend it. You can lose your life by wasting it on secondary causes.

Or, you can invest your life in the cause of Christ. The one who invests his life takes up his cross and follows Jesus in willing and humble service. Godspeed Jesus follower. Fare thee well, in this, your journey of faith.

1,191 Words
4% Passive Sentences
85.5% Reading Ease
3.8 Reading Level

[1] Explanation to the 4th Commandment pg. 321 Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
[2] – 1 Samuel 20:31-33
[3] – John 3:30
[4] Generation Me by Jean Twenge, PhD © 2006 Simon & Schuster
[5]  –Ecclesiastes 9:10
[6] – Colossians 3:17
[7] - Philippians 1:21

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