Jesus Ruined My Life

Sermon preached on June 22, 2014 at St. Luke Lutheran Church in Devon, PA.

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Matthew 10:24-39
24A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master; 25it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the slave like the master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household!
26So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. 27What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops. 28Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30And even the hairs of your head are all counted. 31So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.
32Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; 33but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.
34Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.
35For I have come to set a man against his father,
and a daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
36and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household.
37Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me.39Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.
It seems to me that Jesus Probably didn’t do very well in his marketing classes in business school! His messaging is just all wrong. Take up the cross and follow me?!
He’s calling people to follow him, and he’s selling the idea by telling them that they will be met with opposition—even persecution. Apart from the people that can harm or kill them, Jesus even promises to mess up their family lives: Set sons against fathers, mothers against daughters, making enemies in your own home. How on earth did this movement ever get off the ground?
If Jesus was making his pitch today, I’m sure there would be a focus group telling him that he needs to concentrate more on attracting people and convincing them of the benefits they will reap. If he’s going to insist on using “take up the cross and follow me,” he might want to consider a more savvy approach:
Well, that seems a lot better than what we just read in the Gospel of Matthew? “Follow me and you’ll have a flatter stomach and sexier legs” sounds a lot more appealing than what Jesus is saying in Matthew chapter 10, which is essentially, “Hey: if people hate me, reject me, crucify mejust think what they’ll do to you!” This is one of those challenging messages we encounter in the Bible that makes it very clear, in no uncertain terms, That following Jesus can really mess us all of your plans. You can put all of your time, all of your energy, all of your money, all of your heart, soul, mind and strength into finding the life that you want—creating just the right situation for success and happiness—and then Jesus comes along and says “Those who find their life will lose it,and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.” Following Jesus will really mess up your plans. Jesus might just ruin your life.
Last week I stopped at the Starbucks in the Gateway Shopping Center For some caffeine and to answer some emails. I was sitting in a chair and there were two women talking in the next section. The wall between us was like a chain link fence, so I could hear them (and, of course, I listened!). They were talking about a young man from their church Who had just graduated high school. When one of them asked what his plans were, his answer was about following Jesus and serving others, and not about what university and what major he would be pursuing. It sounded Jesus ruined his life. And apparently Jesus had no regard for how his parents felt about this, let alone the poor guidance counselor at his high school who has to worry about the stats for graduates going on to college!
The truth of the matter is that we all need to watch out, because Jesus didn’t just come to earth to find customers. Jesus didn’t come to find admirers or a fan club. I’d even say that Jesus didn’t come to find worshipers .Jesus came to find followers. Are we ready to follow Jesus, even if Jesus ruins our lives? Are we ready to be ruined by Jesus? A couple weekends ago, the members of our council here at St. Luke had a retreat together here at the church. (Let me say what a wonderful, talented, faithful council we are blessed with) Pastor Mary said something that Friday night that caught everyone’s attention. She was telling us how glad she was to be a part of St. Luke and then she said that in the time she has been here she has felt a constantly-growing sense that God is about to do something. Something absolutely amazing. I’ve been thinking about that, as has everyone who was there, and this morning I’m ready to say “Bring it on, God! Here we are!”
Jesus is calling us—each one of you by name—to come and follow, but it just might ruin your life! I’ve been trying to think lately about what exactly my job is here at St. Luke is. I can give you quite a list of everything it entails, but it occurred to me this week that, since Jesus ruined my life, the reason I’m here is to help Jesus ruin your life, too! Consider that your fair warning!
By this time next week, 21 of us will be headed to Appalachia And I can’t wait for Jesus to ruin their lives! I actually don’t have to worry, because some of them went last year, and Jesus ruined their lives so much that they’re going back again. They couldn’t find anything better to do with a week of their summer!
I have a sneaking suspicion that a lot of us have already been ruined by Jesus. How many of you Sunday School teachers have been ruined by Jesus because you got face to face with a group of children and realized you could think of nothing better to do on a Sunday morning? How many of you can say, Jesus ruined my life because I went to Feast Incarnate to serve a meal to people with HIV/AIDS and now I can’t find anything better to do when those Tuesday meals roll around?
Jesus is all-out devoted to ruining your life. Maybe you’re not ready to have it all ruined in one fell swoop, but Jesus might want to ruin your week, or your afternoon, or ruin a moment. Jesus just might want you to lose your life in order to find it, because God’s new reality happens when people are ruined by Jesus. The world changes when people can think of nothing better to do.
Two weeks ago, some of us took a moment an wrote ONE Campaign letters asking our Senators to get a bill introduced to expand electricity to Africa. This past Thursday, the Energize Africa Act was introduced in committee! It’s a good thing you didn’t have something better to do that morning! That same morning, I met with Lutherans addressing poverty in Philadelphia. We were at Lutheran Settlement House and in the back of the room there was an order of food that was ready to be shared with a family that needed it. Right in the middle of that food I saw a bag of macaroni and cheese. A bag that looked immediately familiar. A bag that was measured, weighed, sealed, and packaged by a group of people who let Jesus ruin their afternoon in order to pack 20,000 meals. It’s agood thing they didn’t have something better to do! Week in and week out, every Sunday morning here at St. Luke somebody’s life is changed because another person gathered here takes a moment to say “hello” or “how was your week?”, or just sits next to them as they struggle or cry. All because somebody has nothing better to do than to be there.
The question is not if Jesus wants to ruin your life. The question is “how is Jesus ruining your life?” Maybe Jesus wants to ruin your week later this summer by having you come be a part of Vacation Bible School (unless you already have something better to do). Maybe Jesus wants to ruin you morning some day by having you visit or call someone who needs to hear from you. Maybe Jesus wants to ruin your drive home today By inviting you to think about or talk about the people who changed your life because, thankfully, they had nothing better to do.
Jesus is calling you, each one of you by name, to come and follow. If you can think of anything better to do—anythingby all means, do it! But if not, it must be time to realize That Jesus has ruined your life. AMEN.

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