I had a friend who owned a 9’6″ longboard which had it’s origins somewhere in the early 70’s. The thing was a beast. Dark green and heavy, it caught waves really well but was a feat of strength to turn. It had no leash plug, not even an old fashioned hole in the fin to tie one on – consequently he would surf it without a leash. He was pretty good, so it usually wasn’t a problem.
What was awesome about that board was it’s intimidation factor. If you dropped in on that board, you would not win. It would plow you under. On days when the swell was particularly good and the numbers of boards in the water were increasing by the hour, my friend would smile and pat that huge green beast of a board and say “I’m not worried about how many are out here. I have a CROWD CONTROL board.”
Crowd control. That’s sorta’ what Jesus is about in the section we’ll be reading in Luke this week. (Luke 14:25-35)
Jesus is experiencing what it seems most contemporary pastors in the U.S. are obsessed with achieving – large crowds. Jesus never seems to be able to appreciate big crowds, because when he has them, he always seems to make “crowd control” statements which thins the herd. John 6 is a great example of that too. In this instance, Jesus begins spelling out in stark, even harsh, detail what following him really means, what it will really cost. Why do you suppose he said this in this context?
He talks about hating family members and hating self in order to follow him. Wow. As modern pastors, we scramble around as quickly as possible to explain it doesn’t really mean that (and it doesn’t in terms of the straight English reading of it)….BUT, Jesus never qualifies what he says. He just pulls the pin on the grenade and smiles. I find that both fascinating, admirable – and scary. How do you read this? What do you think he’s saying?
He also talks about counting the cost of following him, illustrating it with a story of an incomplete construction project and a king considering going to war with insufficient forces. The thrust of both those stories is RE-EVALUATION. What is Jesus telling us we will need to reevaluate when we count the cost of following him?
If we follow Jesus we are not defined by our families (v25-26), we are not defined by our own self will (v27), and v 33 tells us what ELSE we are not defined by. What does he say, and how badly does it cut us as good American consumers?
Jesus pulls no punches in this section. This is a crowd control speech if ever there was one. His words are a dividing line between spectators and the team. These aren’t words to apply to everyone else, these words are missiles aimed at our own heart. These are words to wrestle with – they are designed to produce crisis. Crisis which leads to conversion and correction and ultimately, the best life possible on this broken planet. Salt, after all, is GOOD.
Ok…well, this is stuff to ruminate on until Sunday. Hope to see you there!