Posted by: mikebackup | September 7, 2013

Jesus giving us the Ramsay treatment

Luke 14:25-33 – New International Version (NIV)

The Cost of Being a Disciple
25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’

31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.

Gordon Ramsey…
I know many of you will not be able to stand Gordon Ramsey, I though love his kitchen and hotel nightmares. If you haven’t seen them it’s where he goes into a badly failing hotel or restaurant and attempts to turn it around. At the heart of each episode is a group of people where there are serious relationship and professional issues. Being quietly spoken and nice in these situations would not work. Gordon’s aggressive character forces people to face up to the reality they’re in and the choices they have to make. I love it because by the end these places and the relationships within them have a new future. Gordon is only aggressive when he needs to be and is in fact very generous when it’s deserved.

Jesus playing hard…
The reading here is Jesus doing a bit of a Gordon Ramsey on us and being quite aggressive just as Gordon would be. He’s telling us what true discipleship is and for most of us including myself this is a sobering experience which makes me swallow hard afterwards. True discipleship has nothing to do with the Christian signs we make – baptism, coming on a Sunday, putting in the collection, helping out here and there, the list goes on. True discipleship is about putting Christ first in the whole of your life and trusting that by doing that, all other aspects of life will flow and be made good.

Not literal hate..
We need to look at the reading carefully otherwise we could get the wrong end of the stick. This is especially true when he says we must hate our family and hate our own lives. We know that hating family and ourselves is at odds with everything else we read in the Bible, so why does Jesus say it? He uses it in a non-literal way to make the point how much we must put Christ first ahead of anything else. He’s saying your love for him must be so strong that the gap between that love and the love you have for yourself and your family is massive – no contest. Many Christians have been told by their families, it’s us or Jesus – you choose. Jesus says if it comes to that, sad and difficult it may be, the choice is easy – It’s Jesus without a moment’s hesitation.

The two parables that follow spell out the journey to true discipleship and asks, have you got what it takes? I watch Grand Designs and one of the dramas that often happen is when the couple are unsure whether they can finish the building project they have started. Most get there, but some don’t. The first parable is saying to anyone thinking of discipleship – have you got what it takes to finish it? Have you counted the cost of it? It may cost you everything you hold dear. If you can’t pay that cost then whatever faith you build will eventually become a folly, crumble and fall. The second parable says the Christian life is like war, and we must consider the hazards. Can we endure the hardship? There is nothing worse than starting and then renouncing Christ at a later date. In this way, the rich man that Jesus challenges but who walks away is better than someone who says yes and then says no later on.

Martin Luther King Jr – Could I have done that?
August 28th marked the 50th Anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr’s ‘I have a dream speech’. Quite rightly it was remembered around the world. He is a supreme example of a true disciple.


This photograph shows him with his family. He married Coretta Scott, and they had four children – Yolanda Denise (November 17, 1955), Martin Luther III (October 23, 1957), Dexter Scott (January 30, 1961) and Bernice Albertine (March 28, 1963).

This is a lovely family photo – but who did he choose first – his family, his life or Christ? He chose Christ, knowing that it could cost him everything. It did on April 4th, 1968 when he was assassinated.

This asks me a very difficult question – could I have done the same in that situation? I don’t know if I could.

Are we disciples?
Where does this leave me and where does it leave you? In a sober mood is the answer and I feel like I’m on the other side of one of Gordon’s tell it how it is speeches. True discipleship asks us to put Christ first every moment of every day. I know I’m not there and I’m probably right in saying that you aren’t either. We have a choice –renounce Christ and leave in sorrow, or keep building, praying hard that we have what it takes to genuinely put Christ first.

For me that’s a yes. But why bother when there’s so much doubt? Well I look again at Martin Luther King Jr and you can just see that this it is right, you sense it and want to be like it. It shows simultaneously how far short I am, but also that reaching for it is worth it. My dream is that I can reach it.

Think very hard whether you want to do the same as you watch the end of his speech. Listen to the words, think of him, his family, this reading, what has happened over the last 50 years, think of yourself and your faith.

If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

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