Rev. Alex Wilson
February 3, 2019
Rev. Alex Wilson
Vicar

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Reference

Luke 4:21-30

Is your faith just an idea or a way of life? Is coming to worship on a sunday morning about a personal relationship shared with no one, or ignored when it’s convenient, or is this place about re-grounding yourself for a week of kingdom work ahead of you? Its a valid question, and at its heart is what Jesus is telling us this morning in the Gospel from Luke. The good news we follow is bad news, which is good news!

Thats nonsense!

Following his man named Jesus is taken for granted today, in a landscape of litigation, personal choice, sports, and political capital- and in alot of ways it’s always been that way. Following this good news in Christ, if we really lived what we preached, would mean no war, or ecological waste of this planet for profit, the eradication of poverty, and the end of weapons and mass shootings. It would mean that when we say all are welcome, that it really means all are welcome, not just those who smell, look, or think like us. But following Jesus is hard, because we like profit and security, we are easily offended by others actions, and being changed by someone who is different than us is not convenient. Yet this is exactly what Jesus is teaching throughout his whole life, that his kingdom way of life- the way of the cross, can never just be a cute idea or thought. It is always be bad news because of the cost to us, which is good news!

So who’s gonna run me off a cliff? Cause that's Nonsense! Or is it?

This is the challenge of what Jesus preaches to us today, that the good news we are given, is bad news, which is good news, because it upends our whole world view. When we follow Jesus, there is no longer room for independence, or power, and that's the bad news of our good news- following Jesus is a daily process of inner conversion away from the self security and into the freedom of Christ. And that is uncomfortable. As one more sympathetic commentator put it, “if we aren't screaming thats bull-shirts, when we hear the good news, we aren't really listening,” because of what is really being asked of us. But why is it about this harder road and not just celebration of the acceptance of God's wisdom in the Gospel of Christ’s life? Because Jesus asks allot, he asks for our whole life. There are many times we hear the Good News and think “well it was easier back then, so they could just up and follow him. I’ve got a family and responsibilities.” But was it really easier? The gift of history is that the themes don't change, only the actors. Jesus asks for our whole life, and we give him the part we can spare when things are good, but when life gets hard he’s on his own- just like in the reading this morning! We try to run him out of our town’s because we don't want to live a hard life, who would! We want to live a life of success and happiness, and sometimes the life that following Jesus gives us is inconvenient and hard because it goes against the insiders and individual security of our world. And that's nonsense!

The gospel of luke is pointing us in one direction, and that's to the cross of Christ, that ultimate moment of when real life and disbelief come head to head. That moment when we can see Jesus hanging dead on the cross, and think its all over, only to see him three days later in our living room alive again. This is the head turning nature of what it means to follow this guy named Christ, that we both suspend the laws of common sense- that a dead man can’t rise- and question with a fine tooth comb everything that we are told about him- in order to follow him. We believe that Jesus calls us to new life, not by checking our brains at the door, but by engaging with everything we are and do in this abundant life Christ offers us, which is open to everyone. For the empty tomb to make any sense, this moment of confusion and anger is fundamental, because in it we find a God bigger than our imaginations can hold.

So I hope, church, that we are uncomfortable, because here we go. Living this gospel life means that we accept it as the ruler of every aspect of our life. We seek and serve others in everything we do, loving our neighbours as ourself- not for pride and glory, but for the sake of the cross. It means we open ourselves to new experiences, new ideas, new challenges, not for a resume builder or a fuzzy feeling, but for the kingdom of God- a kingdom which is already breaking in all around us. It means that we choose to work for, shop at, live in, and use products which respect our understanding of God’s promise of Justice to all people. It means using the money we have been given from God, through our hard work, to further the kingdom of God in our own time. And thats the hard word that Jesus speaks to us today. Faith in him and the grace to follow him will send us to places where life feels more rough, challenging and connected, and we will want to ignore him or run him out of our cities. Yet, no matter how hard we try, Christ is going on ahead of us into the cross and resurrection, where new life is already forming among us. That is where the Good News is bad news, God is already at work within us calling us to even greater places and challenges for the sake of the Kingdom, and that’s Good News because Christ is already going on ahead to welcome us there.

Rise up church, cause that’s the good news, there is no easy way around it and complacency won’t do. How will you respond with your life this week?