Proper ingredients of a disciple

Luke 14:25-33               First UCC            09/08/19

 

So I would like to take some time this morning and discuss a musical band.  Are people here familiar with the Grateful dead?  For those who are not, they were a musical band which was formed in Palo Alto California in 1965.  Their music covers a wide range of musical styles, but I think it is fair to say that they have quite a following.  They are known for their live performances and lengthy instrumental jams.  They have been for a long time, and have a number of albums out there.  They have also have had a change with musicians.  When they started out the line up was:  Jrry Garcia; bob Weir; Ron “Pigpen McKernan, Phil Lesh and Bill Kreutzmann.  Over the years, members have left, come back, they have had visiting musicians join them.  And there have members who have died.  The band has even gone through some name changes.

The particular topic I would like to speak about is the death of Jerry Garcia.  He passed away in 1995 from a heart attack.  The band then disbanded for about three years before a number of the members rejoined.  They then called themselves the Others ones and performed on tour for several years.  In 2003, the band again renamed themselves as the Dead.  But the band continued to have some of its hallmark tendencies, enjoyable concerts, a variety of music genres amongst their songs and performance.  But was it the same band performing the music or not.  This may well be problematic for some Deadheads, otherwise known as ardent fans of the Grateful Dead band, but I would suggest that the band and the music group of people make of was changed and turned into something different following the death of Jerry.  I felt differently about the music and the concerts that occurred after 1995.  It is hard to say that a band is dictated by one of members of the band.  As we well know, it takes a group of musicians to make a band, to make music.

 

But the entire feeling of the band in my opinion changed.  Now, I have been to Grateful Dead concerts in the past, there are a number of their albums that I still listen to.  And I also have a number of friends who are fond of the dead, they might even be called Deadheads.  I do not expect everyone to agree with me, but the ingredients for me were forever changed after 1995 and I did not feel the same way about the subsequent band and its performances.  Was the band producing good music its performances?  Yes.  Did the band continue to be popular and present in the world.  Absolutely.  Would I still appreciate the Grateful Dead and its historical work.  But for me, I never could embrace the band and its music after Jerry died.  Somewhat similar musical experience, but not the same impact for me.

Ingredients.  These are the things that make up materials and articles.  They are the building blocks of inanimate objects as well as living creatures.  Without all of the ingredients listed, you would not have the same product.  Food, for example, one of the great things in having an ingredient label on food items is that a person will know exactly what is contained within an item of food.  Different foods can have as few as one or two different ingredients, but can be significantly different

There are a number of situations where just one or two different ingredients can really change the make-up of a food.  This can also apply to people.  If there were labels put on the side of people, it would list elements such as carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulfur.  These are the fundamental building blocks of humans and other living creatures, so they would be listed on our ingredient labels.  But if the percentages of those elements were different, what would we look like?  Would we function differently?  There are other ingredients too that beyond the elements.

The genes within our bodies each make us unique.  There may be some similarities, but the truth is, however, we are all different and distinctive.

We do not act the same.  We have different characteristics that make us different from other people.  We each have our own personalities.  These are things, however, that are not always visible at first glance at someone.  The ingredients inside us, give us distinct skills and abilities.  Some people will be able to play sports better, other ingredients will allow people to  doing well with certain jobs.  Our unique list of ingredients makes us to be how we demonstrate love in our lives, caring and showing hospitality to others, and living our lives out as disciples.

This notion of looking at a person’s ingredients and how their composition dictate how they live faithfully parallels what Jesus is talking today about in this passage from the Gospel of  Luke.  Jesus is explaining to the crowd what the nature of true disciple of Jesus Christ.  Jesus is trying to tell the people that if they want to really become disciples, they must be aware of what ingredients necessary to follow Jesus and become a disciple.  .  Jesus is informing those who desire to be disciples of Jesus Christ must know what characteristics they need to embody in order to be successful.

The first statement that Jesus makes to the crowd is shocking.  It is a strong statement, one that we are perhaps unused to hearing.   Jesus tells the crowd “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, even life itself, cannot be my disciple.”  Is Jesus telling the crowd that people need to forsake their family in order to be his disciple?  This is a radical statement, to hate members of your own family in order to become a disciple.  The truth is however, Jesus was not teaching hate to the crowd, or to we the listeners today.   If we think about the entire ministry of Jesus and his life, we can see that Jesus did not hate.  He ministered to people, healed the sick, and cared for people.  He loved people.  Love was a driving motivation for his life and ministry and choices.

 

The original Greek word here in the text does not refer to anger or hostility.  The word hate in this context means that in the midst of a conflict, a disciple must put priority on being a disciple of Jesus Christ, and following his example.  Being faithful in this world is Discipleship is NOT an easy vocation.  Being a disciple requires a faithful commitment to God.  Discipleship involves a very strong connection and relationship with God, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus.  These priorities are crucial to discipleship and THIS is what Jesus is explaining to the crowd.

The next part of the scripture from Luke says Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.  Jesus was telling people that living the life of a disciple can be filled with challenge, risk, and suffering.  Jesus suffered for the words that he spoke to others, and he was killed for the acts he committed and the lessons he taught people.  In Jesus’ period of time, the cross was one form of torture that was used to punish and execute people.  Jesus was saying that he wanted to let people know that by following him that they could be subject to suffering.  .  This verse also points out that to live a life of faith can also mean living in a way that is countercultural to societal norms and expectations.  Truly adhering to faith can be hard.

A third ingredient of discipleship that Jesus points out is related to planning ahead.  In his talking to the crowd, we hear some examples which he gives which expresses the importance of planning things out and planning ahead.  A phrase that might sum this part of the scripture would be “be prepared.”  Jesus is expecting great things of us, and in order to fulfill those expectations, we need to think and plan before action.  We need to recognize the potential situations, obstacles and challenges we might encounter as Christians. A person should give some thought and reflect on what will be involved as a disciple of Jesus Christ.

A commitment to finishing ones role as disciple of  Jesus is very important.  Being a person of faith is not a sprint, a 100 yard dash, but it is a marathon, a life long journey that occurs on Sundays as well as every other day of the week, and all of the weeks and months ahead.

To not follow these statements would not be calling of what Jesus is inviting us to be.  If we are not consistent with our Christian values, we may fall short in our faith journey.  Will we still demonstrate loving faithfulness and kindness if we occasionally follow this passage?  Yes, but with different ingredients, different percentages of our own priorities we are not truly responding to our call to live in this world, with love and graciousness, making an impact in our own community and beyond.

In the final section of the passage, Jesus talks of giving all of one’s possessions to become his disciple.  Jesus is illustrating to us that to have many worldly possessions can impede a person’s life or work.  WE can hear that Jesus is encouraging us not to Focus on having material belongings.  This is the third ingredient about which Jesus is telling the crowd.  A person who attempts to be a disciple, and yet holds onto all of his or her worldly possessions, will have a tough time following Jesus.  Worldly possessions can divert a person’s attentions from what is truly important.  Most of the resources in the world today are not going to help someone become a better disciple of Jesus.  The true ingredients to being a disciple do not come from outside a person.  The true contents need to be inside a person:  inside their hearts, inside their minds.  This ingredient of giving up worldly possessions, as well as those previously mentioned ingredients, is what is critical to becoming a person a disciple of Jesus.

There are all sorts of people out there with different compositions and ingredients.  And each person presents him or herself with actions and words in a way which reflects their make up and their priorities.  This passage talks to the people that day and to us what priorities are necessary in order to make someone faithful and a true disciples.  Without the right characteristics, with out the proper determination, a person may not measure up to this calling.

 

Let us make sure we contain the right ingredients for the future.  So we need to have the right ingredients for discipleship in our lives, in order that we can be true disciples of Christ.  Let us live our lives in discipleship with Christ, and be willing to make sacrifices and compromises in order to glorify God.  Let us not focus on worldly possessions and our own lives.  Let us use those ingredients God has given us to finish the things we set out to do.   We have been called by Jesus, may we respond to his call and demonstrate our discipleship. Thanks be to God and may the people of God say Amen.