It’s always embarrassing when people talk about money, least of all in church. We will be talking about money in a moment, because the church has bills to pay, like everyone else.
What I wanted to do was to set it in the wider context of God giving us all that we have, and our whole lives being offered in his service, by thinking about our Bible reading. I wonder if you’ve ever had the experience of saying, “that wasn’t what I signed up for?” Did you agree to do a job you were assured wouldn’t be very big at all, only to find it wasn’t quite like that? Did you ever sign up for one of those book clubs, and then find the small print meant you had to buy more books than you ever wanted, at higher prices?
In today’s passage, Jesus wants to avoid any such misunderstandings. He wants to be sure that people know just what the cost of following him will be. Without context, Jesus’ first words seem harsh and totally out of character. How can the Jesus who has preached radical love suddenly call for his followers to hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters? It only makes sense, if we set aside the emotions that we associate with the word hate. Here, hate is an exaggerated expression in the everyday idiom, meaning “turn away from” or “separate from.” What Jesus means, is that following him is the highest calling there is.
Jesus tells two parables to show what means. In the first, a farmer is considering building an observation tower in his field. ln the second, a king is considering whether he has adequate resources to wage war on his enemy. The point is everyone has the same choice to make. Do we have what it takes to see the project through to the end? More is at stake than embarrassment in front of the neighbours, or defeat at the hands of an enemy. Although we must all make the same decision about whether or not we are willing to pay the price to follow Jesus, it may cost us different things. For some it may cost us the reordering of relationships, for others the price may be giving up possessions. For others, the investment may be in the form of time or energy.
Now, Ken and Paula are going to talk to us about the monetary side of this.
In Jesus, God came among us, gave us everything, and paid the ultimate price. Let us reflect for a moment in silence.