Sunday’s sermon from Luke has the disciples asking Jesus to increase their faith because by chapter 17, which was our text on Sunday, the disciples realize it is HARD to follow Jesus—frankly, Jesus demands too much of his followers.
Today I attended a luncheon at First Scots Presbyterian, where Dr. Tony Campolo was the guest speaker. He, too, was talking about following Jesus. Tony said too many Christians are following the cultural Jesus and not the biblical Jesus. He pointed out that in the gospels Jesus calls us to “follow him” 58 times, and to “believe in him” only 4 times. Too many Americans believe in Jesus, but we don’t FOLLOW his teachings. He quoted Gandhi as saying, “Everybody knows what Jesus was preaching but Christians.” Ouch!
The theme of his talk was that we have made Christianity too easy and as a result our faith lacks passion.
He reminds us that Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God,” not seek first America. We let band and soccer and work and travel and all the other things that our easy lifestyle now affords us to get in the way of following Christ. In a parody . . . “instead of ‘All to Jesus I Surrender,’ he sang 10% to Jesus, 10% to him I freely give.”
I don’t have an answer and certainly I am guilty of being a cultural Christian. But I do know that things that matter, those things that mean something important to me, require sacrifice and commitment.
We are in the beginning of stewardship season, and for the first time since Palmetto was chartered as an official congregation, our giving is exceeding our expenses, and we are doing lots of good mission and ministry. BUT . . . there is always a but . . . it is more challenging to get folks to take a leadership position and to be involved in service.
What does it mean for you to say YOU will follow Jesus? That is a question we should all be asking during this stewardship time. How can you use YOUR time, YOUR unique talents, and yes, YOUR finances as you seek FIRST the kingdom of God?
Tony Compolo did a good job of making his listeners this morning stop and think. I hope in the coming weeks we will all stop and think . . . and pray about our commitment to Jesus and his church.
It is truly a joy to be your pastor.