Sunday, November 25, 2007

Live for the King (1 Timothy 6:11-19)

November 25, 2007
Sermon by: Robert Austell
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In today’s sermon text, Paul is writing to his young friend and student, Timothy. His words here are fitting for us today, as he, too, has just talked about money in relation to faith. We have been talking about stewardship as worship for the past several weeks. By the end of the text today, Paul is urging Timothy and those who would read and hear these words to seek to be rich in the things of God rather than the things of this world.

That teaching on earthly and heavenly riches is interrupted by verses 11-16, which in my words say this: “Timothy, I’ve been talking about the specifics of money, wealth, and faith, but what all that really has to do with is this one thing – live for Jesus; live for the King!”

In the calendar of the church, today is the end of the story told by that calendar. Next week a new church calendar year starts with Advent and looking forward to celebrate Christ’s birth. Today is “Christ the King” Sunday, in which we remember and celebrate the end of the story. That’s why you were called to worship from the Revelation passage, for Christ will come again to judge the living and the dead because he is the “King of Kings and Lord of Lords.”

I will be brief today. We are looking outward in missions and we are coming later to the Lord’s Table. I’m also not a big one for lists, but today I’m going to list 10 things to help us live for the King. If you have your own Bible or can write on the bulletin, I hope you’ll list them and go back to them this week and maybe even in the New Year for further study.

The list of ten breaks out into four must do’s, four reasons why, and two contrasts. Paul is writing to Timothy, but his words are appropriate to any who would follow Christ, so I will address the ten things to you and me.


Four Must Do’s


1. Flee (v. 11)

Paul warns us first to flee from the love of money that he has just described in vv. 9-10. There he called the love of money a ‘snare’ – that is, the attractive lure or bait a hunter uses to draw an animal into a trap. So, says Paul, the love of money can lure us into a deadly trap.

2. Pursue (v. 11)

As we run away from that trap, we are to pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. This is a short virtue list meant to describe what right living looks like. That’s what righteousness is – it is being and doing right before God. While we cannot achieve perfect righteousness apart from God’s help through Jesus, that’s not what Paul calls for here. He urges us to pursue righteousness as we run away from the traps of sin.

3. Fight (v. 12)

Perhaps recognizing that a life of faith is not quite that simple - not a straight shot, but more of a roller-coaster ride – Paul says that we are to “fight the good fight of faith.” That is, the life of following Jesus doesn’t come easily or naturally, but is a conglomeration of choices, confession, repentance, humility, and commitment. Like a real fight, there will be short-term wins and losses. Some days we will have resounding victory over sin; some days we will feel like giving up. But we are to keep fleeing sin and pursuing Christ. That’s the good fight.

4. Take Hold (v. 12)

One key strategy to pursue righteousness and to fight the good fight is to take hold of eternal life. Eternal life has been promised and assured by Jesus Christ to all who believe. That is Good News, particularly on those days when the roller coaster has dipped low. The assurance of our salvation is like a life line to which we can cling when all apparent hope is lost. God has not gone anywhere; our prayers reach His ears whether we feel like they do or not. Jesus has secured a place for us with him for all eternity. Cling to that truth; take hold of it!


Four Reasons Why

Paul goes on to give four reasons why we these are “must do’s.” These make #s 5-8 of our “ten things to live for the King.”

5. Calling (v. 12)

It is this life and hope to which, as Christians, you were called! God has rescued you, not so you can keep sinning, but so that you can live and be transformed in the likeness of Jesus Christ. God has rescued you from death so you can live right and be right with Him! This is your purpose; it is your calling.

6. Confession (v. 12)

And this is the confession you have made in Christ. One of the essential first acts of becoming a Christian is to make it known – to confess it. This is what folks do when they join the church. This is what folks do when they are baptized. This is why new Christians are so eager to share their testimony and faith with others. When you have been rescued by God, you want to tell people. This phrase gives both the reason for church and the mission of the church. We are not to follow Christ in a vacuum, but to do so in the presence of many witnesses. That’s the church! And we are to continue to make him known to the world. That is what it means to confess Christ.

7. Charge (v. 13)
[This point was inadvertently left out in the audio sermon!]

In v. 13, Paul goes on to charge us, with God as witness, to “keep the commandment” – that is, to obey God. This is the why and the what – obedience is our marching order. That’s the case from the first to the last, in the Garden and in the End, and everywhere in-between. To follow Christ is to obey Christ; this is our charge and obligation, and it is our delight!

8. Who God is (v. 13-16)

Finally, in a little different format, God is our reason for living for the King, because He IS the King! In vv. 13-16, Paul cannot invoke the name of God without erupting into a song of praise. God is the Creator and Sustainer, who gives life to all things. And He is:

…the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and the Lord of lords, who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion!

That’s why one day every knee will bow and every tongue confess… if we can catch even 1/1,000,000th of the awesomeness and glory that is God, then this would all be so much more self-evident to us. We must live for the King because God is the King of kings! Whatever the most awe-inspiring, breath-taking, heart-stopping, amazing thing you’ve ever seen is: Grand Canyon, the Alps, the ocean, the billions of galaxies of which our Milky Way is just one, or any earthly ruler or power… God made and holds all that in His hand and is infinitely stronger, larger, more powerful, and is moving behind and in front of all of those things.

If no other reason makes sense, then live for the King because of who God is.


Two Contrasts


We could and probably should stop there, but I’ll quickly mention two final things to help us live for the King. These are #s 9-10.

9. Rich in God (v. 17)

Paul comes back to the topic he was on before the interlude of vv. 11-16: money and riches. Now he offers strong contrasts. Rather than seeking to be rich in this world, he challenges us instead to be rich in God, who “richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.”

10. Rich in Good Works (v. 18-19)

Likewise, and tenth, we are to be rich in good works, to be “generous and ready to share, storing up for [ourselves] the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that [we] may take hold of that which is life indeed. Again, Paul challenges us to turn our eyes away from what will trap us in this world and fix our eyes on our present life and future hope with God. That is what he calls “life indeed.”


Live for the King!

In many ways, this text and topic at the end of the church calendar year pulls together themes we’ve been looking at throughout 2007. We studied Hebrews 12:1 this summer: we are to fix our eyes on Jesus and run after him, avoiding the entanglements of sin around us. We studied Philippians last Spring: this hope in the assurance of our salvation is the source of supernatural strength and joy, even in the midst of the very real suffering of this present life. As we saw this Fall in Luke 13-14, God is the inviting host who supplies us with all we need. And as we have considered these past few weeks, life and wealth is not grasping after what we covet here on earth, but a whole-life stewardship of what God has entrusted to our care while we live and breath. Our lives are to be lived in obedience and service to the King of kings.

Beloved, hear the Good News and God’s calling to all who would believe:

God has rescued you from sin and death and has called you out of darkness into light. Come, believe, and follow Him. Live for the King, for He is worthy and He is Lord! Amen.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Stewardship as Worship (Gn 2:15-17, Josh 22; 24)

November 11, 2007

Sermon by: Robert Austell

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Today is Stewardship Sunday, but I am not going to talk about tithing. Today is Stewardship Sunday, but I am not going to ask you to pledge. Today is Stewardship Sunday, but I am not giving a budget-funding speech. I’m not going to talk about any of those things because that’s not what biblical stewardship is.


Essentially, stewardship is an act of worship. That’s right… worship. Like singing hymns and praying to God. Also like listening to a sermon and responding to God’s Word, like experiencing the Good News of Jesus Christ and sharing it with another person. Stewardship is one of the essential worship-acts of those who trust in God.


I’d like to look at two scripture passages with you, and then I’ll share briefly about how we are going to approach stewardship this year in light of this teaching.



The Beginnings of Stewardship (Genesis 2:15-17)


We’ll begin in Genesis 2. After God made the heavens and the earth and then made the first human being, do you know what He did next? He put Adam to work! For some reason I always pictured life in Eden as lazing around in hammocks and having everything I needed at my beck and call. But work is part of creation! God made Eve so Adam wouldn’t be alone, so he would have a suitable helper in that work. What was Adam’s work? It’s there in verse 15:


The Lord God took the man and put him into the Garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.


Realize that this is the creation story. Everything is important here! What was the relation of the garden to Adam and what was his role? It’s where he lived; it’s where he worked; he ate the produce of the ground. But was it Adam’s garden? No, clearly, this was God’s garden, entrusted to Adam for care.


This verse is the heart of biblical stewardship. For though much time has passed and we no longer live in paradise, the earth is the Lord’s and all it contains. Though we built or paid for our homes and the land they are on, are they not the Lord’s? Though we work and produce goods and services, are they not the Lord’s?


That sounds right when you’re in church with your Bible open, doesn’t it? But what about when we’re not? It’s like we read v. 15 and put the accent in the wrong place. “God put the man in the garden to cultivate and KEEP it.” Woo-hoo! I get to keep it. God gave me this place and it’s all mine! God gave me this job, this body, this life – and it’s mine, all mine.


Two things are problematic with that. One is that is not the meaning of ‘keep’ in v. 15. The second is that is exactly the problem that arose with the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Adam grasped after what did not belong to him.


First, let’s look at what “cultivate and keep” really means. I normally don’t speak Hebrew to you, but it’s worth peeking behind the English this time. The word translated ‘cultivate’ is the Hebrew word ABAD (pronounce with a cultured English accent – “I must take A BATH” and you’ll be close). This is one of the most frequently used words in the Old Testament. Why?... because it is the word that usually is translated ‘serve’ as in the Second Commandment that says “Thou shalt not make an idol; thou shalt not worship or SERVE (ABAD) them.”


What Adam was doing in the Garden was tending the ground, but in doing so, he was rendering an act of service to God. Serving God is at the heart of worshiping God. Adam’s work in the Garden was really worship in the Garden, because it served God’s will and purpose in the young world. Likewise, our work and our service is to be an act of worship to God, serving his will and purpose in the world. That we earn a livelihood from our work is a blessing and by-product of serving God. Indeed, ‘serve’ isn’t the only form of this word ABAD. The noun form, ‘servant’ (ABODAH), is used to describe those who worship and serve God with their lives.


The other word in verse 15 is ‘keep’, which is a translation of the Hebrew word SAMAR. Far from meaning “have possession of”, it means ‘obey’ throughout the Old Testament. Here, in reference to the Garden, it means that Adam will obey and honor God’s command by tending diligently to the garden. As used throughout the Old Testament, it is another worship word, describing obedience to God’s Word. You would also find it in the Fourth Commandment, which literally reads: KEEP the Sabbath day, keep it holy. The first ‘keep’ is SAMAR, the second is a synonym. It means obey. Hear God’s Word and keep it. Do what God says… SAMAR.


So, in the very first instance of God entrusting humanity with something, we find that it belongs entirely to God, and our purpose is to serve and obey God through its use. That is the essence of stewardship, and it is essentially an act of worship to God.


But does that describe everything in our lives? Are there things that do not and cannot serve God? Are there things that we want to keep for ourselves?


It should be no wonder that the story turns there next:


The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” (vv. 16-17)


As you know, this was the very thing that the first human beings grasped for. This was the first illicit property, grasped against the explicit will and Word of God. It was the first violation of the stewardship of the Garden. God had entrusted them with the Garden and said, “Here you have all you need; cultivate and keep this for me.” But then God marked off the Tree and said, “This is not for you; this is death; stay away from this.”


Last week, I distinguished between personal property that God has ordained and blessed, even provided for in the Ten Commandments, and that which we would grasp after and clutch from another. It is in our fallen nature to grasp after that we do not have. But it is in our image-of-God and redeemed nature to be entrusted with that which belongs to God.


This is the task of stewardship: to serve God and obey God’s will and Word with all that we are and all that we have, and to renounce and turn away from sin and all that we would grasp after. That’s not the stuff to give to God; that’s the stuff to flee from! All the rest belongs to God and we are only tending God’s garden.


That’s the biblical definition of stewardship, established in the very beginning and enduring until now and into eternity. Stewardship is serving and obeying God – that’s worship.



A Second Chance (Joshua 22:1-6)


Let’s look at one more passage. This is in Joshua 22, when God’s people had come to the Promised Land. In this passage, Joshua is sending several of the tribes to their part of the Promised Land. And he praises them for their faithfulness and obedience to God. Listen:


You have kept (SAMAR) all that Moses the servant (ABAD) of the Lord commanded you, and have listened to my voice in all that I commanded you. You have not forsaken your brothers these many days to this day, but have kept (SAMAR) the charge of the commandment of the Lord your God. And now the Lord you God has given rest to your brothers, as He spoke to them; therefore turn now and go to your tents, to the land of your possession, which Moses the servant (ABAD) of the Lord gave you beyond the Jordan. Only be very careful (SAMAR) to observe the commandment and the law which Moses the servant (ABAD) of the Lord commanded you, to love the Lord your God and walk in all His ways and keep (SAMAR) His commandments and hold fast to Him and serve (ABAD) Him with all your heart and with all your soul.” So Joshua blessed them and sent them away, and they went to their tents. (vv. 2-6)


Why do I highlight all these ABADs and SAMARs? Because Joshua was commending the people of God for tilling and keeping the garden of God’s Word… for serving God and obeying His will and Word. And God was now entrusting the Promised Land to them. In many ways, this was a “second Eden” – a second chance at stewardship, a new start. They were to serve and obey God through their stewardship-worship of this land blessing.


It is a lesson for us in what proper perspective looks like. We have been entrusted with God’s will and Word, and all that we have is entrusted by God (except that which we have grasped after as our own, which we need to turn away from). What God deserves – and again, this is what worship is – is that we honor Him through serving and obeying Him with all we are and all we have.



Nuts and Bolts


Only two chapters later, everything comes to a head. It turns out many of the Israelites have brought along or picked up foreign idols and are worshiping or serving (ABAD) them. Joshua stands up before the people and makes that famous declaration:


Choose this day whom you will serve (ABAD); as for me and my house, we will serve (ABAD) the Lord! (Joshua 24:15)


Joshua wasn’t asking for pledge cards; he was calling for a restoration of the covenant with God. He was committing publicly to a life of stewardship through serving and obeying the Lord. When Israel followed him in this covenant, they committed afresh to be a worshiping people who served God with hands and hearts, and who obeyed God’s will and Word. That is the call of stewardship – to a renewed covenant between each of us and God.


This week you will receive two things in the mail. One is a letter from Duncan Witte, who chairs our finance ministry team. Duncan and the other members of the finance team wrestled through these concepts with me and he writes to explain in his own words how we want to serve and obey God in the New Year. In the newsletter, which should arrive mid-to-late week, there is a letter from me lifting up this theme of stewardship as worship. On the back of that letter is not a pledge card, but a covenant form. It doesn’t ask how much you are going to give each week; it says this:


Covenant of Stewardship


I understand and believe that all I have and all I am belong to the Triune God. Understanding stewardship to be an act of obedient service and worship to God, I commit and covenant to honor God, not only with heart, soul, mind, and strength, but materially and financially.


As an act of worship, I commit and covenant to regularly pray to discern what God is doing in and around me, and participate in God’s work with the time, talents, resources, health, and strength God has entrusted to me.


In keeping with the practice of God’s people since the creation of the world, I commit and covenant to offer God my “first fruits” – returning the first and best of what God has given me for His glory and work.


As I participate in the life and work of God in the expression of the body of Christ that is Good Shepherd, I commit and covenant to turn and return to God as my first priority, my first love, and first goal. I praise God for choosing to work in and through me!


Recognizing my own limitations and frailty, I nonetheless strive, by God’s grace, to live a life glorifying to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit.


I want to stand before you and commit, me and my house, to this covenant of stewardship. I don’t know what it means in dollars and cents. I know where we start in our giving, but I believe God may challenge me to an entirely new perspective on what is mine and what is His. I do know that I want my life, our family, and our decisions to serve and obey God’s will and Word.

Duncan’s letter will explain the mechanics of not taking pledges. I think it will be okay. In fact, I think God will do far more than we can imagine at this point. Know that we will be wise and not spend money we don’t have. But, more importantly, I think by stepping out in faith, we will hear God’s voice with new ears and new hearts.


I invite you to prayerfully consider this covenant act. If you want to still pledge to help hold yourself accountable, we’ll receive that and include it on your statement. But, we are not asking for it. We are asking for a renewal of worship of the family of God at Good Shepherd.


I invite each family member to sign the covenant and bring it to church next Sunday to lay on the Table. We’ll consecrate that offering of faith as a church body next Sunday. And we’ll send a copy of the covenant back to you at the first of the year as a reminder of your covenant before God.


All glory be to God in His Church! Amen.


Sunday, November 4, 2007

Apples and Oranges (Luke 14:25-35)

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Sermon by: Robert Austell
November 4, 2007

What is a disciple? That is the question raised and answered in today's text.

Interestingly, a student at a local seminary stopped by the church this week and dropped off a one-page survey for a class he was taking. It asked the same question, "What is a disciple?"

I answered his survey by saying that a disciple is a follower of Jesus marked by obedience, commitment, and faith.

Our text today begins with crowds following Jesus. When we read the Bible, we see that this was a frequent happening with Jesus. He was a popular teacher and many people followed him around to hear his teaching. But it seems as if in today's text he goes out of his way to distinguish to the crowds what it means to be a true disciple. It is specific and it is costly.

Comparing the crowd to the way Jesus described discipleship is like comparing apples and oranges. One might even recognize that it is not unlike comparing church attendance to discipleship. Still, it's apples and oranges. Both are good; but very different.

Jesus is going to say some very strong things – and by the end, I think it will be clear that if we are talking about anything other than complete commitment, obedience and faith in Jesus Christ, then we are talking about something entirely different than discipleship.

Jesus gives three prerequisites for being a disciple – not one of "The Twelve", but a follower of Jesus. We will look at each one and then come to the question of what it means for us to be disciples of Jesus Christ.


Love of Another Kind (v. 26)

If anyone comes to me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. (v. 26)

I think this verse is one of the hardest verses in the Bible. By that, I don't mean that it's hard to understand. It isn't obvious what it means, but it is understandable. I can explain that. What is really hard about it is what it is does mean.

Here's the explanation. First, it doesn't mean what it sounds like. You don't have to hate your family in order to follow Jesus. How would that even make sense when Jesus taught such a strong ethic of love? If this teaching sound strange to your ears, it would have 100 times to the ears of his Jewish audience. For them, family was at the center of cultural values, and also at the heart of their scripture. The Ten Commandments say to honor our father and mother. Jesus did not come to abolish the Law, but to fulfill and complete it. Something else is going on here.

The usual explanation you'll get (and this may be in your footnotes if you have a study Bible) is that it is in contrast to the love a disciple has for God. We are to love God so completely and utterly that all other loves pale in comparison. We've talked about that before. God is not to be among our top three loves; God is not to be "just #1"; God is to be our only God, with no other – no other loves of THAT kind… apples and oranges.

It's still hard to wrap our heads (and hearts!) around, but it kind of makes sense. But listen; that's not the hard part. There is a sense in which Jesus means exactly what he sounds like he's saying. Let me give you several examples.

When I counsel young adults preparing for marriage, one of the most important concepts we have to talk about is what it means to "leave and cleave" (Genesis 2:24). One of the most common problem-causers for a new marriage is remaining overly tied to one's family of origin. Do I mean that a new bride should not talk to her mother or go for a visit? Not at all. But I do mean that she has a new first allegiance. She has a new family that takes precedence over the relationship with her parents. This is one of the most challenging things for adult children AND parents to grasp. And choosing the new family over the old one can sometimes feel like a rejection of love. I have, more than once, heard the words, "She no longer loves us; he has turned his back on us; he hates us!" Of course they don't! But the new allegiance can feel that way.

How does this apply with God? Surely God is better at communicating and avoiding hurt feelings than a 20-something bride or groom! Yes, but we are still human. What if God's plans for our children don't match up with our own hopes and dreams? They marry and move across the country, or like my good college friends the Allison's, move to Africa to translate the Bible for an unreached people group. Do they hate me, their friend? Do they hate their parents? Lezlie writes that her unairconditioned home sometimes reaches 120 degrees when she's cooking. Her children play on dirt floors… and there's malaria. Yes, what about children? Does she hate them because she's following God? To many it would seem that way.

Jesus is not telling his disciples to hate their loved ones; he is describing what their discipleship looks like to the outside world – to those who don't understand their love of God.

We stumble on the part about hating father, mother, wife, children, brothers, and sisters, and usually quit reading before the last one. But that's maybe the craziest one. We are to hate our own life! There is little we hold more precious than that. Tradition tells us that all but one of the disciples gave their lives following Jesus. Jesus is describing to the onlookers – the crowd – what discipleship looks like from the outside. Surely, nothing seems crazier to the onlooking world than to see a follower of Jesus making this ultimate sacrifice out of love for the Savior.


Essentials for the Trip (v. 27)

Jesus continues with this short, but power-packed verse:

Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. (v. 27)

What does it mean to carry our own cross? It is a continuation of what Jesus just said. It is the willingness to lay down our life for the sake of Jesus Christ. That, in a very poignant way, is what "coming after me" means here. We are following the example of Jesus, who did not consider equality with God something to be grasped onto, but who humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:6-8). That passage in Philippians exhorts us to "have this attitude in us". That's what Jesus is teaching here – that we should hold on loosely to the things of this life in order to humbly pursue obedience to God.

What is essential for following Jesus? What must we bring with us for the journey? It is only what Jesus carried with him to the cross. It is faith, humility, and obedience. We must be willing to lay down everything else. That is the full meaning of "lay down your life." Yes, in some times and places, even today, being a Christian means risking one's life. It may be that way again in our lifetime for you and me. It also means, though, that we not clutch onto anything else. We cannot carry the cross and follow Jesus if our hands and hearts are full of other stuff. It is an all or nothing thing.

At this point, it's normal to wonder, "I'm not sure I'm up for all this!" That's exactly why Jesus goes on to give two illustrations. He is illustrating the importance of counting the cost and not falling away mid-course. He describes a builder who only planned finances for the foundation, but who didn't have enough to finish. He then describes a king who would be foolish not to consider the size of the opposing army before deciding to fight or seek peace.

Jesus was surrounded by those who had an initial interest in his teachings, but who had not considered or counted the cost of truly following him. Likewise, coming to church does not make one a Christian; rather, obedient discipleship is what it means to be a Christian.

I clarify that not to scare you away, but to invite you to come all the way in! But come in knowing that this is not a hobby. It is not entertainment and it is not a safe place to raise your children. You can't believe I said that? Raise them here and they may grow up to be such Jesus-followers that they will follow him to the uttermost parts of the earth. If you want safe, there are safer churches.


Non-Essentials (v. 33)

The third prerequisite to being a disciple of Jesus is in verse 33:

So then, none of you can be my disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.

It's a little ironic, isn't it, that we stumble on this? When we talk about stewardship and tithing and such, we hold out tithing as the great achievement of mature Christianity and we kind of laughingly say, "But Jesus really says to give up all our possessions." What is really interesting is to read this teaching here in the context of the other prerequisites of being a disciple. Suddenly, possessions don't seem like the big deal they normally do. If you haven't choked on the first two prerequisites, then you can probably deal with this one.

Possessions are an interesting thing. Perhaps the best way to understand them is to study the Ten Commandments. God provides there for property ownership in the Sabbath Law, noting that we are not only to rest from work, but rest our family and possessions as well. And yet, in the Coveting Law, God warns against desiring another's possessions. There are those things that God entrusts to us, with which we are to honor Him and return to him as faithful stewards. And there are those things we clutch at and grab onto. And those are things we are to repent of and let go.

Disciples of Jesus Christ do not have to take a vow of poverty, but they have to be willing to. They seek only to possess what has been entrusted to them by God, and they tend those things not as their own, but as God's, to be used and returned as God sees fit.


Salt (vv. 34-35)

Jesus ends this teaching by talking about salt. If you'll excuse my mixing the metaphor, he does so to illustrate the difference between the apples and oranges. Salt is good; learning about God is good. Following Jesus around for a while is not a bad thing. Hanging out in church is good. But the purpose of God's Word and Jesus calling is that God USE us in the world. Salt is good, but not if it never comes out of the saltshaker. We know it can't lose it's flavor, but if it did, it would be useless for its intended purpose.

Jesus says unsalty salt makes as much sense as "Christians" who are not disciples – obedient followers.

He has described and issued the call. It is to a love of God that makes all other loves pale in comparison. It is to a faith that should be called an "extreme sport". It is to a lifestyle of service and stewardship that clings to nothing other than the character and love of a gracious God.

In The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis, a table is set for such disciples. It is a feast to end all feasts. To those without the eyes to see, it was bits of hay and dirty water.

Today, Jesus calls you. He calls you to discipleship and he has set his feast before you. It looks like some grocery store bread and juice, but to those who answer the call, it is the very body and blood of the Son of God. Amen.