Pentecost 13 2022 Proper 18
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud 
September 4, 2022
Deuteronomy 30:15-20, Philemon 1-21, Luke 14:25-35


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            You are here.  You have gathered together this morning to once again hear the Good News that your sins are forgiven by the blood of Jesus.  You are a baptized child of God in the family of faith and that family [will be] is one bigger this morning as we add little Lydia Whitaker. You are in.  You are forgiven.  You are redeemed.  You are part of the Lord’s Church.  You have the gift of eternal life.  You are moving through this life in the ship of the Church.

            As we have talked about before, this area of the building is called the nave.  It is from the Latin word Navis which means ship.  It is the same word from which we get Navy.  You are in the ship of the Church, the ship of faith.  As a part of the Lord’s Church, as a member of God’s family, in His ship of faith you ride out the storms of life, the joys and the struggles until the day comes when you are wheeled in here one last time to be laid to rest to await the resurrection of the dead. 

            You are in.  You are in.  You know the truth of the forgiveness of sins through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.  You have been rescued from the darkness of sin, death and the devil and transferred to the Kingdom of God.  You are in. You are a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven.  You have been given unending gifts.  You are blessed by God for eternity.  You are destined to live forever in the Heavenly City of New Jerusalem. 

            You are here.  You are in.  So you get to ask yourself.  “Should I stay or should I go?”  This is a question posed by Mick Jones of the Clash in a song written in 1981.  “Should I stay or should I go?  If I go there will be trouble, if I stay there will be double.”  The Clash is talking about a relationship with a girl.  Your question is about your relationship with God through His Church. “Should I stay or should I go?”

            As Jesus teaches in our Gospel reading today you have to count the cost of following Jesus.  What are the costs?  What are the benefits?  Jesus teaches, Luke 14:27 (ESV) 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.”  Jesus then talks about building a tower and going to war and how you have to count the costs.

            Should I stay or should I go?  Being a disciple of Jesus has its costs and its benefits.  Is it worth it?  Being a part of the Lord’s Church has its costs.  Being a disciple of Jesus….

            Costs you a few hours on Sunday morning each week.

            Costs you money -- a sacrificial first fruits offering

            Costs you time in prayer and Bible study. 

            Costs you your time in service to the church

Costs obedience to God

Costs you having to love people you may not like

            Costs you not being able to join Sunday morning sports leagues. 

            Costs you the freedom to be your own master.

            Costs you the freedom to follow your feelings. 

Costs you being annoyed about something at church and still keep coming. 

Costs you trying to keep wiggly kids quiet and still. 

            Costs you submission to God’s will

Costs you the option of trading in your spouse on a newer model.

Costs you having to keep intimacy inside the marriage of a man and a woman.

            Costs you friends who do not want to around someone who believes the Bible is true. 

            It can cost you your job

            It can cost you family members

            It can cost you your physical freedom as many in the world are jailed for following Jesus.

            In some counties it can cost you your life

            Should I stay, or should I go?  Is the benefit worth the cost? 

            Some folks, I fear, think, “I’ll stay in the church, but only if it does not cost me too much.  I’ll stay in the church but not if it affects my sex life, or my money, my schedule, my business practices or my recreation.”  Then the cost would be too high.

Being a disciple of Jesus has costs.  Luke 14:27 (ESV) 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” 

            Should I stay, or should I go?

            Set before you are life and death, good and evil, blessing and curse.  Choose life. Choose to stay in the Lord’s church. Stay, knowing there is a cost, so it is never a surprise.  Stay, because.  John 6:68 (ESV)  68 … “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life…”  Stay, because you are the salt of the earth.  You are salt preventing the rot of evil from destroying lives and leading people into the fires of Hell.  You are salt -- loving and serving others.  You are salt -- preserving lives through the Good News of forgiveness of sins in Jesus. 

            Stay.  Resist the desire to give in to the ways of the world. 

            The Stanford Marshmallow Experiment is a test of impulsivity and delayed gratification where a child is seated at a table with one marshmallow in front of them.  They are told they can eat the marshmallow but then they will not get any more, or, if they can wait a bit, they will get an additional marshmallow. Can the students delay their gratification? 

            I am relatively good at resisting impulsivity and delaying gratification when it comes to food… during the day.  But once the sun sets and the clock hits 10 PM or so, something switches off and I become an expert in impulsivity and gratifying my every snacking impulse.  There are times when I am strong and times when I am weak. 

            When it comes to the question about being a follower of Jesus, “Should I stay or should I go?”  There are times when you will be strong and able to easily resist temptations and there will be times when you are weak and more prone to give in and think that the cost of following Jesus is too high.  The devil knows your weaknesses and he will exploit them.  Be on guard.  Know your own weaknesses and protect yourself.  And when you fail, do not give in to the devil’s temptation to despair, instead live out your true identity as a baptized child of God, get on your knees and repent of your sin and know that your sin has been forgiven by your dear Lord Jesus.

            And if you do choose to leave do not give the Devil the satisfaction of having you slowly drift away into unbelief as if you do not know what you are doing.  Be bold, declare what you are doing.  Set before you are life and death, good and evil, blessing and curse.  Declare, “The cost is too high.  I choose death.  I choose evil.  I choose to be cursed.” That way you will know what you are doing.  You will know what you are choosing. 

            There is a cost to following Jesus because it is following Jesus.  Jesus is the Suffering Servant.  Jesus carries His own cross and suffers and dies at the place of the skull.  Jesus is God in flesh who is the Lamb of God who offers Himself as the once-for-all sacrifice for sin.  There is cost to following Jesus but the benefits are eternal. 

            Should I stay or should I go?  Weighing the costs and the benefits, you should stay.  Jesus is… John 14:6 (ESV) 6 … “… the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through [Him].

            You are a baptized child of God moving through life in the ship of faith; the Lord’s Church.  Stay.  It is worth the cost for eternity. Count the cost and know that eternal life with Jesus is a treasure beyond compare.  Amen