Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Luke 9:57-62 - Following the Uncomfortable Kingdom Builder


Passage: Luke 9:57-62
Originally Preached: 14/05/06 - 6:30pm Service - St Stephen's Anglican, Belrose
Series: The Cost of Discipleship

Description: Following Jesus is uncomfortable, urgent and unending.

Comment: When I first heard I was preaching this passage I was a little nervous. I read it and saw that Jesus is making big requirements of his followers. So I was bit worried that if I started work on this sermon and realised the depth of what Jesus asks of us I would be having to make big changes to my life. I wanted to remain in the bliss of comfortable ignorance.

While doing this sermon did challenge me, I haven't gotten myself homeless. What it did do was start a mild crisis of asking why I'm not homeless, and am I willing to be homeless for the sake of Christ. It has challenged me to have less and live with less. I haven't sold everything for the sake of Christ but I have resisted buying myself an iPod, which is quite and a achievement. It'll be even better if I still don't own an iPod next week. But we'll see. Let's let next week worry about itself.

Of course the point of the sermon is not to have less. It was only a side note. I guess I just want to make sure I'm not attached to my things. I want to have a life that I can leave behind if Christ calls me too. And I figure the less "stuff" I have the easier it is to let go off.

The sermon did challenge me to be more willing suffer for the sake of Christ. To be more willing to hold fast, to not enjoy myself. I guess it's ok to not enjoy following Christ and still be entirely satisfied. I do enjoy myself and am quite satisfied. But my faith doesn't rest on my enjoyment of its consequences. Even if I have to live a live deprived of some of my most basic needs for the sake for Christ, I can still hold on, because following Jesus means being willing to follow him all the way to the cross.

While I was writing the sermon I got a call from my family saying that our dog, the pet I had grown up with for the past 15 years was about to die and would I like to go see her one last time. My first thought was to say "No". The first thought was to "Let the dead bury their own dead, I must preach the Kingdom of God." It was significant that when I'm writing about that passage I get called away to say goodbye, as death is coming (the death of a dog not a father, but I think the point still stands.) In the end though, I went. Because it seemed to me that not going to write my sermon was not about serving Christ, it was about serving my desired deadline. Being with my dog and family, was more important to me than getting an earlier night. Whether I went and saw the dog or not would have not bearing on whether I preached the following night or not.

In the end none of that made it into the sermon, but it did clarify a bit for me that the work of the kingdom doesn't mean missing funerals, it means going to funerals with Kingdom priorities. Feel free to disagree with me on that one.

The opening illustration was probably one of my poorer opening illustrations. Not so much in its writing but in its execution. I feel like I was a little too subtle, too many people didn't really get it. Subtlety is good, especially in art. But in preaching, when you're preaching the opposite of what you believe and people don't get that, then you're in trouble. We preachers have a responsibility to preach the Word clearly and if I get up and spout a bunch of heresy, I want to make sure people know I don't mean it. What I could have done with the opening illustration is explicitly explain it during the sermon, but that treats the hearers as idiots. Things work better if you're clear enough that people get it without having to tell people what you're actually saying. That way you make your point and they feel smart for figuring it out.

That said I didn't have any issues with people not understanding me, I just feel like I could have been clearer. If any of you are wondering, I don't think you need to have a big car and nice house to make Jesus look good.

So that's the sermon. Next up is the three week series on 1 Samuel. Cool, I'm looking forward to that.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have to have a big house and a nice car to make Jesus look good. Damn I have been making him look pretty crap all these years. Interesting sermon. I really am looking forward to the day I see you preach.

5/28/2006 12:37 pm  
Blogger Tom said...

Yeah I don't make him look all that good either. But as soon as I get that new car...Yeah that'll be the day.

5/28/2006 11:12 pm  

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