Potsdam United Methodist Church
Where we let Jesus shine! Where we invite, love and nurture ALL!
Sunday Worship
11:00am Service
Pastor Heidi R. Chamberlain
Information info@potsdamumc.org

Lukewarm? No!

Listen to the Sermon or the Entire Service

September 8:

Call:    Psalm 139: 1-6
Text:    Luke 14: 25-33
Prophet: Jeremiah 18: 1-11

         Lukewarm?   No!

The two OT scriptures this morning tell us
that God actively seeks us;
they remind us that our relationship with God
is not something God merely tolerates
but rather one of God desiring and initiative.

The psalmist in speaking to God notes
(with awe and with gratitude)"
   "You pursue me behind and before."

God pursues us
   By being behind us and pushing us
And God pursues us
by being in front of us and pulling us

And then God, through Jeremiah reminds us
that we are a piece of clay in the hands of God the potter
and   that if we are defective, God the potter can destroy us
      in order to reshape us as God would have us be.
And Jeremiah then urges us, begs us, pleads with us
 to "amend our ways and our doings."

Can any of us hear these passages of scripture
w/o understanding that God really and actively wants us?

Can we hear them without sensing how actively God seeks us out?
Can any of us listen to these words
   w/o feeling and experiencing the energy God expends on us?

And yet, Jeremiah summarizes the response of the Judean people of his day in the verse following our passage, by attributing to them these words,
   "It is no use!  We will follow our own plans,
   and each of us will act according to the stubbornness of our evil will."

We would resent Jeremiah if he attributed those words to us.

Of course we   would never use those words
Instead we say things like,
   "I would really like to, God
   But ...

One example:

But I can't worship because:
   I have other things I "have" to do
or I need a vacation from doing your work

Most of the things we say we "have" to do are good things
   (of course with some of us the things may be questionable)

Some may be even better ways of serving God at that time
   Than by worshipping

Most of the things to which we give priority, however,
make the statement to God that,
   "All these things are more important to me than you are."

By our words and by our actions
By our use of our time and our money, we too often say to God
      "I am a Christian
      But other things are more important!"

I am convinced that on many occasions,
Not even God can distinguish our "But" statements
   From the words Jeremiah attributes to the Judeans of his day

Jesus apparently agrees with me
For in our text this morning,
   The words of Jesus
   Kick us right in our B-U-T-S.

Listen to what he said, [Luke 14, 25-33]

These words are strong.  They are very strong - even harsh
   "Whoever comes to me
   and does not hate
      father and mother
      wife and children
      brothers and sisters
         yes, and even life itself,
   cannot be my disciple.

I love my father
I loved my mother while she was alive
   Even her death over 15 years ago
 has not stopped me from loving her
   I love my children
   I love my brothers and my sister
      My time with them in Nebraska reminded me of how much
   And if anyone has failed to notice how much I love my wife
      He/she is blind, deaf, and totally unobservant.

And that is why      I have always found these words disturbing
   Even offensive.

That is the reaction Jesus wanted when he spoke them
   He wanted them to have an impact
   So that what he was really trying to get across to us
      Would not be dismissed or ignored

He knew that our first reaction would be of disturbance & offense
He knew too that when we began to process the words he used
   We would recognize
   That the man who proclaimed that the first and greatest commandment is
      "Love God with all you heart, mind, strength, and soul
   and on his own initiative added as a part of it,
      "and a second is like it, love your neighbor as yourself"
could not have wanted us
to hate  to not like
or even to be indifferent toward our families.

Such would not only be impossible to reconcile with the great commandment,
   It would fly in the face of the instruction he gave us
      "to love our enemies."

 [As an aside, this passage is a great example of
why we should not be overly literal in our understanding of scripture
and why we always need to filter and interpret scripture
   through Christ's message of as a whole.]

No reasonable person with a true understanding of Jesus Christ
could conclude that  loving family
   Means    that we cannot be disciples of Christ

No!   What Jesus is talking about            is priorities
   What he is trying to get us to understand    is costs

For Jesus does not want what I call "lukewarm disciples."
   Perhaps "weak kneed" disciples might be an even better term

He wants disciples who know that there are costs
   To following him
He wants disciples to know that there will be choices to be made
   By people who chose to follow him

And that means that there are times in our lives
        When we may be required to chose between
        What and who we love so much (and what they want us to do)
      And   What Jesus wants us to do.

That was the message of the program
   That Shelly, Marcy, and Lisa led last year

It was called, "Not a Fan."
Its premise was that Jesus wants followers - not fans
   He wants them hot - not lukewarm

Jesus does not want us to say    "I love and adore you"
and then when the going gets rough
demonstrate how little commitment was in those words
by quitting on him and saying
      "I have other obligations
so I cannot continue to work for you."

In our passage from Luke, Jesus goes on to point out,
   "... which of you, intending to build a tower,
      does not first sit down and estimate the cost,
      to see whether he has enough to complete it?"

In our passage, he is being what today we call, "transparent."
   He warns us that following him has a price
      That there will be demands on us.
   That price can at times reach the point of
Separation, disagreement, and even estrangement
   From the people we love most
   For many of us
there is no greater price we could have to pay.

Jesus says that what he needs are
disciples, witnesses, and followers
who are even willing - albeit with tears - to pay that price.

This scripture is, as I shared with the children, a mirror
   Each of us has to look into it
   See ourselves - individually and as a congregation -
And   decide whether our commitment to Christ is enough
      That we are willing to do what Jeremiah told his contemporaries to do
      "amend our ways and our doings."

Today, we begin the program year
   By distributing our directories, a new tool of our ministry
And   by beginning Sunday School.

Is there any better way to begin this year
   Than to look in the mirror of Christ's words
      In Luke 14: 25-35?

And respond, "Lukewarm?"   "No Way!"