Sermon: “Joining the Crowd?”
Rev. Glenn G. Grant
Kirkridge Presbyterian Church
Transcription from September 4, 2022
Sermon transcription is automatically generated. Please forgive any grammatical errors.
Our scripture lessons this morning seem to almost be contrary to each other, contrasting to each other. Jeremiah, you get this idea of God being a, um, always willing to remake us into something new, but then we turn over and we have this passage where Jesus is being followed by the crowds. Starts talking about the fact that they can't be his disciples because of what they're not willing to give up.
And those two things seem to contrast with each other. But let's talk about the passage from Luke a little bit. First of all, why were the crowds all following Jesus? Well, you know, the closest thing we have to that today is if you were out somewhere and maybe some celebrity shows up. You would see a crowd starting to build around the celebrity and of course the more the crowd builds up, then you have other people going to join a crowd to see what they're there for.
And this is a lot of what was going on with Jesus. He was going throughout the region, teaching, preaching, and healing people. And because of, especially the feeding and the healing, people would start following Jesus and of course, then you have others that want to go see what the commotion is all about. And you end up with problems like I-75 northbound on labor day weekend, or southbound on Monday.
But you end up with this vast crowd and Jesus is addressing that crowd. And one thing that has always caused problems with this passage for people, is when Jesus says, whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, sister, and brother cannot be my disciple. And that's partially because of translation issues. You see the word that is translated as hate in Greek doesn't mean hate.
The word that is translated in our scriptures as hate means to let go of. And that was the original meaning. Now think about that. Whoever comes to me and does not let go of father, mother, brother, and sister cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be a disciple. In other words, what are we willing to let go of to be disciples of Christ? For most of us, there are a lot of things in life we won't let go of.
We won't let go of our secure home. We won't let go of our finances. We won't let go of our nice cars and our clothes. We won't let go of positions of prestige. And yet we claim to be committed Christians. Now, a number of years ago, along with some other folks from this congregation was listening to Tony Compolo speak. Now I listened to Tony Campolo probably way more than most people in this world. Since he lived at our house on weekends when he was in seminary, I listened to Tony Campolo say things that he never repeats in public, but Tony Campolo was talking about why our youth aren't involved in the church and why congregations have problems reaching out to youth.
And he says the biggest thing is, is not because the youth want to have rock music or praise music. It's not because they want to have service at a specific time. It's not because they want to be more formal or less formal. He says the problem that we're not getting in the church is that the youth want to be given something that shows commitment, they want to be expected to commit to something, to be involved. And think about that. If they're in school and they try out for a team, if they're not committed to being on that team, they're not gonna be really successful. If they are not committed to doing their studies, they are not going to be successful in their studies.
And it doesn't just go with school. It's youth teams, youth sports leagues, everything else. We expect our youth to be committed to something.
And in survey, after survey, after survey over the last several years, it has shown that the younger generation s aren't in the church because they don't see a requirement of commitment and they don't see a commitment from the people that are already there.
Yes, they see them there every Sunday, but they don't see them committed to living out a Christian lifestyle. They don't see them as willing to give up what it takes to pick up the cross and follow Jesus.
And if you don't see that, then why would you want to be part of it? If people are just going there, but without being committed to what it's supposed to be about, why would you wanna be part of it?
And so, this is what Tony was getting at is that we need to have expectations for our youth, but we also have to live out those same expectations for ourselves. You know, it's been said over and over and over again that the church is full of hypocrites.
Yeah. The church is full of hypocrites.
And we need to think seriously about what that is teaching and teaching others. When we are called to make disciples of all people, what kind of a disciple are we making? If our example is not of being a disciple, now the good news on all of this is that we have that passage from Jeremiah. Because yes, the church is full of hypocrites, thank God, because otherwise, the pews would be empty.
We have this other piece of our faith, which says that God can take us and remold us and make us any time, any time. We have this message, the overriding message from the gospels of grace that God takes us and forgives us. And what we are asked to do in return is to try to do better going forward. You know, Jesus didn't tell the woman that was caught in adultery that she was down. Jesus told the woman caught in adultery, to go and sin no more. Start over. Let God remake you.
And that goes not just for us as individuals, but it goes for the church as well. You know, sometimes we need to let God remake us. This is the time, this is the last unofficial weekend of summer, correct? And we hear that on all news, all on TV, and everything else. Last unofficial weekend of summer, everybody's going up north, at least around here.
What is the weekend, the last unofficial weekend of summer all about? For most people, it's about going for recreation, going out on the lake. Well, on lake Huron right now, there's a small craft advisory. So I wouldn't advise that. Going and sitting on the beach? Yeah, it's supposed to be what, 72 degrees and cloudy. A lot of people whose plans for this weekend, probably aren't going to be quite what they thought they were going to be. They may be sitting in their cottage, playing board games instead of out on the water. And if they're upset about that, it's because they're missing the whole point because the whole point is remembering what the word recreation means or re-creation.
It's a time to take and set aside and rejuvenate your body and your spirit for what is coming in the future. And the church needs to do that at times too. We need to re-create ourselves.
So, we get tied up in all of this stuff that we start to value. You know, we have all these programs in the churches that we have to do, we have to do this curriculum or that curriculum for Sunday school, we have to do vacation Bible school. We have to do this. We have to do that. And in reality, that's all stuff that sometimes we have to let go of.
I don't want to use the current translation of the word. We don't have to hate it, but we have to let go of it in order for God to remold and make us into something new, into something that is relevant for today. Not what was relevant for 1940, but something that is relevant for today. Yeah, sometimes that means that we have to let go of our own ideas of what church is all about.
We have to let go of that. We have to let go of doing things that we've always done that way.
We have to be prepared as a church, to try new things. You know, behold, I am making all things new, that's right out of Isaiah folks, behold, I am making all things new. And we have to be prepared to make all things new. Even if it's taking old things and bringing them back, but in a new way. Even if it means that we do things a little differently, old things done the new way, but most important to all of this is that we have to be committed to it.
We have to be committed to living our lives as Christians and living our life as a church, as a body of Christ.
And if we're not committed to that, it doesn't matter what else we try, cuz it's not gonna work. Jesus said that if you're not willing to do this, you cannot be my disciple, cannot. That was not a there's no, if ands or middle ground there, if you are not willing to do this, you cannot be my disciple. And the gospel of Luke says that many people fell away and stopped following Jesus because of that saying. It was too hard for them.
Is it too hard? Is it too hard for us?
Let us pray.