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How much is this going to cost?

Sermon Pentecost Proper 7A 25 June 2023 What’s this going to cost?

Any time you undertake a new project, you have to figure out ahead of time how much it’s going to cost you. It’s only prudent to ask, What’s this going to set me back? Am I going to end up owing money on this? Is it going to cost me more than it’s going to benefit me? And then after I’ve finished, what’s it going to cost me in terms of fuel, financing, repairs?

An imprudent person would just buy first and think later.

My parents went to high school where the principal was a gentleman named Mr. White. He was one of those soft-spoken principals that packed a lot of punch. But he was greatly loved by the students. And like most male high school instructors, he taught PE as well as economics.

One of the things they always remembered about him was his favorite saying, “You better think about a sack of flour!” In those post World War II days, that meant, are you about to spend your money on something worthless or are you thinking about feeding your family? Another piece of advice he always gave them was to stop before you make a big purchase and sleep on it.

When they first got married, my father was a tech sargent in the Air Force, and immediately they got sent to a base in northern Louisiana where my mom didn’t know anybody except my dad. And somehow she got the idea that their small off base apartment needed a new refrigerator. So they went downtown to the department store and found a bright, shiny refrigerator…….. and my dad stepped back and said, “You know what Mr. White would say.”

Well, that really burst my mother’s balloon. When they got home, my dad said, “Suppose we buy this new fridge and a week from now we get orders overseas or something? Then we’ve got expensive payments on our hands and we can’t get rid of this thing!”

They didn’t go overseas but they did get orders very soon, and they agreed that Mr. White’s advice to sleep on it before any large purchase had kept them out of debt.

When we choose to become disciples of Jesus, there WILL be a cost.

Let’s back up a bit. Just two weeks ago we talked about how Matthew did NOT count the cost—even an accountant like Matthew leaped at the opportunity to serve Jesus by following him. Discipleship means obedience, we said, and obedience leads to faith. SO…. Are we supposed to stop and count the cost?

Yes, of course. But AFTER we’ve made the decision to follow Jesus and be his disciple. Maybe that sounds rather foolish. And our Scriptures this week even tell us what some of those costs are going to be.

You ARE going to be made a fool of in public. You’re going to be a laughingstock, they say. You’re going to suffer reproach for Jesus’ name. It’s right there in black and white for you.

Another thing—you’re going to have family conflict. If you think everyone in your family is going to be happy that you’re going to church every week, I’ve got some news for you. There will be opposition from people you had no idea even CARED about you or your spiritual life. Out of left field will come someone who NEEDS to tell you that your church is a cult or you’ve gone off the deep end, or you’re no fun any more. Count on it.

Our Scriptures today also tell us that we are going to suffer everything that Jesus did. No disciple is above his master. If you think Jesus died on a cross but you’re never going to have troubles in the Christian life, you have misread something somewhere. Paul is clear: You are indeed joined with Christ in baptism and resurrection, but you’re joined with him in suffering too. No disciple lives higher than his master.

And here’s another surprise for you—everything you do will be scrutinized. Are you glad about that? Jesus says this—everything that is hidden will be brought out. The good and the bad.

Yep someday some how it’s going to be known that you cheated on your taxes. Or on your wife.

But the GOOD news is that all those kind things you’ve done over the years will also be known—especially by the Father! All the injustices you’ve suffered will be rectified and you’ll be vindicated! All those times when you got short-changed or cheated or robbed—all that will be returned to you and your name cleared forever!

What does Jesus tell us about all this? FEAR NOT!

Don’t be afraid of those who can kill the body but not the soul! Dietrich Bonhoeffer was laughing with his comrades and smiling as he went to the executioner, because he KNEW that the Nazis might kill his body but they could NOT kill him!

Jesus also tells us not to worry about what we’re going to say in the day of persecution. He promises us that the Holy Spirit will bring to mind everything we need to say. IN fact, if you look at the testimonies of both Moses and Peter, you find out that indeed the Holy Spirit does show up and she gives us all the memories and Bible quotes we need! DO you think that Peter had actually studied enough theology and homiletics to give the amazing sermon he gave on Pentecost? NO!

Jesus tells us that the costs of following him are high. But the rewards are great.

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