Emmitsburg Council of Churches

 

The Holy Gospel according to St Luke 14:25-33

Now large crowds were traveling with him; and he turned and said to them, 14:26 "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. 14:27 Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. 14:28 For 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? 14:29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him, 14:30 saying, 'This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.' 14:31 Or what king, going out to wage war against another king, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who comes against him with twenty thousand? 14:32 If he cannot, then, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for the terms of peace. 14:33 So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.

The Gospel of the Lord! Praise to You O Christ!


The Faith Calculator ...

If you sat down and Calculated the Cost of Your Faith . . . What would it be Worth??

Hello Dear Friends and welcome to "What's Your Faith Worth!!"

I'm your host . . . Heavenly-Kevin, and now we'll begin everyone's Favorite Faith GAME Show . . . . WHAT's YOUR FAITH WORTH?!? Oh, by the Way, Have you counted the Cost lately??

Sounds like a pretty cool Game show Huh? Well, between you and me . . . probably won't get such good ratings . . . But Jesus has gotten the crowd's attention by telling the story about Estimating the Cost of things before a person begins a project. Like, for instance . . . Building a Tower...

Interesting that Jesus used Two Illustrations regarding Warfare . . . or more accurately Defense Tactics. We may wonder Why a Tower? Or Why the Estimated Outcome of fighting against a larger advancing enemy army? Did Jesus know much about military strategy? Or, may we deduct that Jesus used these images, because they spoke of Israel's age-old problem of being attacked by outsiders and Christ knows that his followers will also be under the scrutiny or attack of many outside forces. Jesus knows that he must not present any false claims but that following him will require a tenacious faith. Jesus is serious about calling people who will abandon all and stay the course in following him. Even if deadly circumstances prevail.

....But since, no one's building any defensive towers in our area here in the United States . . . let's change it up and be more contemporary . . . like suppose Jesus had said that he wanted us to consider what it cost to, say, build a medium sized, Mid-Family Home as a comparative analogy toward estimating the cost of following him?

As I thought on this . . . I decided to go on-line and see if I could find an Estimated price to build a home. First thing I found on the Internet was "The Home Building Calculator."

Now the The Home Building Calculator."or "HBC" is a questionnaire kind of program that begins by asking you how many corners do you want on this house? . . . Did you know that every corner you add . . . makes your place more expensive?!? INTERESTING! Kind of Puts a New Spin on Cutting Corners . . . which we don't want to do in our Christian Faith, because it makes YOU less than valuable...for God.

However, if you're Building a House, go ahead and build it with as few corners as possible .. . and you'll save money!

Question 2: "How big is it going to be?!?" I didn't really have any idea how large a home I might need . . .but I took a wild guess. And entered, 2160 sq. ft. of home . . . (ok, I did think on this a little!). Sounds pretty big, but, as we know, the space just seems to disappear when you start accumulating life's little possessions H'mm I think Jesus said something about that too, "None of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions" *(Lk14.33). Ah, ok Lord, I'll consider a smaller space! But, I'm just trying to make a point here! One problem at a time, please Jesus?

So, I got my total square footage, under one roof entered into the HBC . . . then it asks about Porches, and such. Entered something like 180sq ft. of porched area. Then it asked about a Garage . . . h'mm had to think on this one a while . . .let's see, Woodshop, Truck lift, room for lots of Junk! Tools . . . Garden Supplies, . . . Maybe throw in a Tractor and a place to weld . .. did I mention == more space for junk!? Seemed like 1600 sq. ft would be nice! But, I suppose I could live with maybe 840 sq. ft. Hope this doesn't run up my budget too much on the House Building Project Estimator . . . I noted that as long as I kept within a 36' Roof Truss . . . I wouldn't need custom built Trusses and this was supposed to save me money on construction!

After all, I was hoping to build this home for say, under, (DON'T LAUGH!!) $100,000 Aren't Building supplies way down in price?!? .... Oh well, Guess that figure's out the window!

By the way, then the program asks about the Quality of the Building Materials to use for constructing the House. Unfortunately, I didn't see any Used Building Materials listed as a Drop Down Option!

But actually the listing begins with . . . Do you want a Custom Built "Designer Kitchen?" You know, . . . with the stainless steel Appliances, marble counter tops and such? Or are you satisfied with Standard Appliances and an unfinished Plywood surface for counter tops??

Do your want Cherry Wood Vanities's in the Bathroom or particle board . . ? So many options! So much to consider!! But remember, we're in a comparison here, Jesus told the Crowds Following him, to Carefully Calculate the Cost of Following him. In the realm of Christianity, we deal with the Eternal Nature of God, and as we understand what God asks of us that is to join him in relationship that begins today and extends into Eternity . . . Jesus is teaching us that we have to get on that Journey with Him, but there's a price to pay in the way we live, the way we act or interact with others . ... Living life, in Christ, is going to be different than living life as the world dictates it to us. Daring to be different in the neighborhood of homes with manicured lawns and matching paint is likely going to get you into trouble with the HOA! Being an authentic Christian is the same, but Jesus tells us this in advance "Take up your cross and follow me."

From being a crowd Christian--to embracing the faith personally, requires a leap of Faith to get started, and then, if we are Listening and obeying Jesus -- we must further Estimate the Costs of Living the Faith. I suppose that, if we are honest/sincere, few of us took any time counting the Cost of becoming a Christian.....we were just were born into this faith. Which is perfectly fine . . . now leaning into the faith by faith becomes our Cross to bear.

Now I have to tell you, in my House Project Estimator Program, it leaves you in the dark as to what exactly you are spending! All you can do is answer the questions, it's not telling you what Anything Costs as you make various Decisions. So, By 18 Minutes into the Program .... I'm getting mighty curious about what my House is adding up to! Ok, Particle Board Vanities . . . I have a feeling I'm in the poor House!@!#!#!

Then came the question about the Quality of the Electric and Plumbing . . . This was a no-brainer I'm not cheating in these departments! . . .so I checked off the Highest "Q" Rating.

Finally, there was a question about the Basement . . ,. Finished or Unfinished? I went with Unfinished . .. . let's see, there's my junk room, then Suse's supplies . . . decided at the last minute to check off that we needed the Higher grade of Windows . . .

Thinking I had answered all the parameters required on the HBC program . . . I hit the Total Button.

Thinking to myself...this should be really interesting . . . hope I'm not too over budget!

Suddenly a Big Red Screen Pops up SYSTEM ERROR!!.

Oh horrors! I spent 30 minutes on this silly little side project -- just to give you a nice illustration/introduction about Jesus asking us to count the cost of following him . . . Yes, of course, I did this all for your benefit! Well, maybe I was just a little off the beaten track! But unfortunately, after all this Valuable time . . . The Whole Thing was down the drain even my "High Q" Kitchen Appliances -- Gold toilet fixtures and ALL! What a Costly waste of effort . . .

Hugely disappointed, . . . I figured, Jesus, must not have wanted me to build this house .. . perhaps I did get a bit carried away on the garage size and maybe I was a tad beyond my means! What was it Jesus was asking of us to Estimate? Oh yea, Do we have enough faith to follow him . . . . no matter the Costs?

Jesus says through his parable, or analogy, that anyone who would be his follower needs to Sit Down and Count the Cost! Is it going to be Costly to Follow Jesus? Jesus is saying YES, as a matter of fact it is.

Perhaps another Cost or Budget Inventory our church could place on the Internet would ask "would be" Disciples of Jesus some questions such as:

How Large of A Cross are you Willing to Carry? ___ Height? ___ Width __ Type of Wood _____ Total number of cubic board Feet ____? Weight? ____

Or, column 2 might ask, ?

How Heavy of a Burden are you Willing to Bear for Jesus? This could be measured in numbers of lives you will affect for his kingdom ___ Men? Women? Children?

Are you willing to Stand up and speak out against Wrongs Done to others in your town? ___ State?___ Country? ___ World?_____ A Drop Down Menu could list Issues of Justice you'd be willing to take on in the name of Jesus _____ . . .

Or You could just highlight those things of interest to you.

I suppose there could be some interesting videos on our Faith Estimator Website. Like clips showing how people lived their lives and followed Christ Faithfully in Biblical times or other eras of history or other places in the world where Faith COSTS a LOT. . . . but I'm not sure you nor I Would Believe the high Price our brothers and sisters Pay . . . to Bear the Cross for Christ!

Remember Jesus was one who stood up for people, like the Woman caught in adultery . . . if you defend the likes of her . . . you may be put in an awkward position. Perhaps another drop down menu would allow you to list or highlight the degree to which you'd bear shame or scorn to play the Role of Christ if you were to stand up for those whom Jesus would defend in society today.

I really Liked the Quality Section of my Home Building project, even though I never learned what it would cost me...Jesus seems to already know what Costs may be incurred by his followers if they go with his Disciple Building Program.

Here's some final "High Q" considerations:

What Quality of Suffering are you willing to endure? Note that as you examine the "Q" Factor, then you must also indicate the Quantity Factor . . . so we might call this the "Q & Q Chart."

Check off as many as you can bear in the name of Jesus! Remember he did For You...                                           

Crucifixion or Martyrdom?____

Beatings __List number ___ , Whippings___how many times ___??, Insults_____, Teasing____number of incidents_? Being Spit upon___?

Or from the Light Weight Section:

Would you carry your Bible to Work____how many days or list number of minutes you'd read in a public place ___? Do you have a devotional life?___ how much time spent reading the scriptures? Would you Share What you Believe with a Stranger? How often have you ___? Have you Told A Friend how God is at work in your life or family ___? Would you Invite Someone to your Church? ___ how often before you'd give up ??______ Would you Support a Missionary ? ____Write in Amount of Support $____ I will tithe __% of my income, which is $____

The possibilities are endless . . . chances are, our Discipleship Estimator Website wouldn't get a lot of HITS....but maybe we should try it!

The Bottom Line with Jesus,

He's looking for Disciples who are serious about the Business of Building and Teaching in the Kingdom of God. This is a Costly and Otherworldly Trade.

Frankly, it doesn't pay very much this side of Heaven. But the Rewards are eternal and the accomplishments will last a lifetime. Maybe, if you Count the Cost and realize who is the beneficiary . . . then you will be Motivated to Buy-Into what Jesus is Offering. But first, get your best Good-Faith Estimate!

Let us Pray,

Lord Jesus, I want you to so work in me, that I might realize the Costs involved to be your Disciple. Lord, you gave your life that I might have life abundantly, and yet you say I must also take up the cross . . . which is a tall order. So allow that your will is done in and through my life, now and forever -- to the Glory of God. Amen.

Read more writings of Pastor Jon