Sermon at First Presbyterian Church Lockhart

"The Few, The Proud, The Disciples”

Jeremiah 18:1-11,  Psalm 139:1-14, 23-24.  Philemon 1-21, Luke 14:25-33

September 5, 2010

by James Greene

 

           Do you remember the commercial slogan: “The Marines are looking for a few good men/women”? or the one: “The Few, The Proud, The Marines”. Then they go into the explanations and the requirements to be a Marine. The theme of today’s readings reminds us of the parody of the Marine Corps Leadership Principles taught in Officer Candidate School (OCS), and those demonstrated by Jesus:  Integrity, Knowledge, Courage, Decisiveness, Dependability, Initiative, Tact, Justice, Enthusiasm, Bearing, Endurance, Loyalty, Judgment.

 

Like the commercial, the text shows us the call and the demands of Discipleship by God and Jesus in both the Old and the New Testament.  What is the price to be a Disciple, a follower of Jesus?  Do you as a congregation, want to be a part of:

The Few, The Proud, The Disciples?

          

           Throughout history there have been many different groups of elite people willing to sacrifice their all, for a cause. There are the 300 Spartans who stood against 40,000 Persians at the battle of Thermopylae, who give Greece time to unite, and there are the 180 defenders of The Alamo who gave Texas time to unite.  They all had to consider the price of their commitment and make a decision.

 

I God transforms us and molds us (into another pot)               Jeremiah

In Jeremiah, we see how God, like the potter, can take imperfect clay and transform and mold it into a different pot.  It is an analogy of how God can transform and mold the lives of His people into a different people.  Much like the Drill Sergeant who takes ordinary people and transforms them into a disciplined, unified organization.  Like the Army slogan: “Be all that you can be, in the Army”, God transforms lives.  He creates something new out of less than perfect material.  He molds people into new pots, and shapes us as he sees best, with His new purpose.

God calls us to turn from our own way and towards His way.  In doing this we become new people, transformed, by the direction and focus of our life.

 

II God’s omnipotence and leadership over events.                    Psalm

We see in Psalm 139, how God leads us.  How God is over all events, He knows us from a distance, and He knows our ways.  Nothing in our lives is hidden.  God, in His integrity, leads us and calls us to follow him in the “everlasting way”, in His tight grip that holds on to us.  Just as Christ leads us, and holds on to us, God is still with us and leads us, in and through all things.                                     

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           Just like the Drill Sergeant who can call you by name from a distance, God knows us by our mannerisms, and the way we move.  Even in formation, when you are standing there (with a shaved head) they both can call you by name.  They both care about you like a Shepherd.

 

III The Godly example of Christian brotherhood.                    Philemon

           In Philemon, we see Paul describing the acceptance of Christian brotherhood.  Onesimus, like the clay in Jeremiah that is flawed, Paul accepts Onesimus as a brother, and calls, those who had sent him to Paul, to accept him in Christian brotherhood.  Paul is willing to pay the cost of Onesimus to his family and the fellowship.  Paul has taken someone who was “less than” and retuned him as a brother in-the-Lord.  Paul, like the Drill Sergeant and the example of Jeremiah, has helped to mold and transformed him into a new person in the faith. 

Our behavior and brotherhood is expressed, in the sharing of our faith, in worship as Christians.

 
IV Jesus  example of Jesus                                                          Luke

            

           In Luke 24:6 Jesus bluntly outlines, for us, the cost of Discipleship.  

"If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father, mother, wife, children, brothers, and sisters, as well as his own life, he can't be my disciple.” 

The word “hate” in the text means to “love less”. His Call is that we Love God - First, and “love less” our families and relationships.  God is to be first in our lives, and all other relationships and material things are secondary.  This is the cost of being a Disciple of Jesus.  With this verse, Jesus (like Travis at The Alamo) draws a line in the sand for those who would be his disciples.  “Today” we are called.  Today, Jesus calls us to discipleship, He calls us to make, and take a stand for Him in the Kingdom.

Jesus, in this text, is thinning out from the large crowds, those who are half hearted, or not fully committed.  He wants disciples who are serious.  He wants disciples who are committed 100% like he is. 

He is looking for a “few good disciples to follow Him.

 

As Disciples we are called to be committed, and to calculate and realize the cost.  Jesus only wants those who are committed.  As a Disciple, we must crucify our low desires, and our high desires, when they are in conflict with the demand of Christ.  We must give over our will (like Christ) to the will of The Father.    

In counting the cost, as disciples, we must accept crucifixion at the hands of a savage world, -- because our failure to finish will lead to frustration in ourselves, and we are left to be mocked by the godless, and stain the reputation of The Kingdom. 

It brings to mind another Marine Corps slogan: “We didn’t promise you a rose garden.” Counting the cost requires us to decide in advance the commitment we are making so that we know if we have the capacity to complete the task, like the building of the tower, or if we need to seek mercy or help from others.

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V What does it cost to be - The Few, The Proud, The Disciples?”    

           Like the Drill Sergeant: who knows us.  Who reshapes us and leads us. 

It is God who shapes us, and knows us intimately.  It is God who leads us by example. We are not slaves, and we don’t have to buy back or repay the cost that has been paid for us.  We know the cost. 

It is to give everything over to God,     and follow His Son. 

 

Christ is looking for a few good Disciples.  Matthew 22:14 - “For many are called, but few are chosen.”     “Today” we are called.      “Today”, Jesus calls us to discipleship.     He calls us to make,    and take      a stand for Him    in the Kingdom.

 

       And He calls us……

 

In the Name of The Father… The Son…. And the Holy Spirit…..    A-men

 

 

 

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