“It’s a funny thing about humility
As soon as you know you're being humble
You're no longer humble
It's a funny thing about life
You've got to give up your life
To be alive”
Giving up your life to be alive. A strange saying in Trap Door, a song by T-Bone Burnett. Yet, it is an explosive little paraphrase of like so many subversive disconcerting phrases at the heart of Jesus message.
As we in Fitzroy have been journeying through Luke’s Travel Narrative (Luke chapters 9-19 - unique to his Gospel account) we have been hearing about the cost of following Jesus. At the end of chapter 9 and again at the end of chapter 14 there are three short interactions where Jesus lays out what it will cost to follow him.
Perhaps the harshest of all is:
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26)
Goodness me! This is difficult and challenging stuff! Yet, we shouldn’t be surprised. Jesus is heading towards the cross. These travel narratives begin with him setting his face towards Jerusalem (Luke 9:51). As he heads towards his cross, to give up his life that we might live, the cost for Jesus himself is in the forefront of his mind.
In that frame of mind and soul he is warning those who would dare follow him what it will cost.
“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. (Luke 9: 23-24) Surely, the verse that T-Bone Burnett has in mind when he wrote, “You gotta give up your life to be alive.”
As I preached this on Sunday morning I at one stage was looking at the text and the looking at a very intelligent, articulate, passionate, committed community of believers and myself and was so disconcerted by how far we are from this profoundly alternative way to live life.
I started asking where in MY life am I paying any cost? Where am I denying myself? Where am I in any shape or form carrying a cross? Where is my life in any remote way looking like being a disciple of Christ? Where? The chasm between the Biblical text that we gather round and on a Sunday and the gatherers seemed so very wide at that moment of the sermon.
So where do we need to pay the cost, deny our rights and sacrifice ourselves for others. In the sermon I love at prejudice, wealth and self righteousness. A few days on and I am still very disconcerted.