return home

Count the Cost

September 8th 2013 by Michael Ada

In Today's Gospel Lesson we are challenged with the cost of being a disciple of Jesus Christ. Read or listen to find out more...

Click here to download the audio

Proper 18C - "Count the Cost" - Luke 14:25-35 - September 8, 2013 INI Grace Mercy and Peace to You from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.- I would like for you to take out your wallet or purse or whatever it is you keep your cash in. Don't open it yet...' What does the largest bill in your purse or wallet represent? For some it might be a Happy meal at McDonalds... For others it might be a meal at Applebees or still yet a meal at the Hereford house. For some cash is more about the time we put into making it. For some that might be an hour two hours or even a whole days wages. For some that cash is comfort... Being able to pay the electric bill so you can have air conditioning. It's a fashion statement with the latest pair of jeans or shoes. It could be entertainment or adventure. In reality God and you are the only ones who truly know what it represents. Only God and you know what it is set aside for. It might be a little or alot. Only you know what is in your wallet. In our gospel lesson today Luke records Jesus telling His Disciples, "Any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple." To renounce: apotassetai- To bid farewell, to dismiss, to send away… As Christians we should count the cost of discipleship. Of course to understand the cost of discipleship we need to understand what a disciple is. Sadly many of us who are called to be disciples, followers of Jesus Christ, don’t really understand what this means. to start with let’s look at Matthew 28 Jesus says “Go and make disciples, baptizing them… and instructing them.” One thing especially today with the Baptism of Isla Grace, sticks out to us. Baptism! And we have all heard what baptism entails: Romans 6: Raised again to new life; Acts 2:38: Forgiveness of sins; Galatians 3: children of God; 1 Corinthians 12: members of the body of Christ; Colossians 2: circumcision of Christ; 1 Peter 3: Baptism now saves you… While all this is “meet right and salutary”, it isn’t the end of the story for you and me or for little Isla Grace. To be a disciple of Jesus Christ involves both what we have seen this morning in the baptism of Isla AND what happens every Sunday and every day that you spend time in His Word. But what exactly do we encounter in His Word? God’s Law and Gospel to be sure, but we also encounter in these something that maybe we don’t think about all the time. Every encounter with Christ’s commands is a call to die. Dietrich Bonheoffer wrote extensively about the cost of discipleship. And I’m paraphrasing here, but what he explains is that as we encounter God’s Word we are called to die to self. We are called to die to the world; to die to everything that we feel we need in this life. The call to be a disciple of Jesus Christ is a call to turn from everything that would entice us, or draw us away from our God. In many ways it is like the young man that Jesus asked to go and sell all he had and give it to the poor. The young man walked away sorrowful… But even this command we tend to explain away in an attempt to keep what we have. In his book, “The Cost of Discipleship”, Dietrich Bonheoffer explains how we tend to let ourselves off the hook: “If, as we read our Bibles, we heard Jesus speaking to us in this way today we should probably try to argue ourselves out of it like this: ‘It is true that the demand of Jesus is definite enough, but I have to remember that He never expects us to take His command legalistically. What He really wants me to have is faith. But my faith is not necessarily tied up with riches or poverty or anything of the kind. We may be both poor and rich in the spirit. It is not important that I should have no possessions, but if I do I must keep them as though I had them not, in other words I must cultivate a spirit of inward detachment, so that my heart is not in my possessions.’ Jesus may have said: ‘sell thy goods,’ but He meant: ‘Do not let it be a matter of consequence to you that you have outward prosperity; rather keep your goods quietly having them as though I had them not. Let not your heart be in your goods.’ – We are excusing ourselves from single minded obedience to the Word of Jesus.” We are always looking for a way out. We are always looking for an excuse to not do what God, or what Jesus calls us to do. In the baptismal liturgy we heard this morning and at almost every baptism, we are asked if we renounce the devil, his works and all his ways, but Jesus gives us an image of what we are to renounce; If it is family or friends, food or money, entertainment or adventure, safety and security anything that draws us from the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. And this Grace is not cheap! Bonheoffer wrote about this costly grace: “Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it cost a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of His Son: ‘(You) were bought at a price,’ and what cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon His Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us.” But how much does it cost us? You have, in your hand, the means to buy clothes, entertainment, safety and security. But what are you going to do with it? Jesus says to say goodbye to it… And that is what I’m going to ask you to do, but not here! I want you to take that bill or if you don’t have any money in your wallet, the cost of a meal out with your family or friends. The cost of whatever it is you desire in this world and give it away anonymously. It doesn’t have to be today but it should be soon. And don’t let anyone know, not even me. Give it away so that you don’t even get the tax break! Last Sunday we read that you should invite those to the feast who can’t pay you back. This is the way you are to give this away. The young man who met Jesus knew the cost of discipleship and walked away sad. You know the cost of discipleship and the cost of grace… How will you walk away today? Amen

Debug parameters