The President was up on Twitter again last night, fumbling to reconnect with his crowd of supporters, the people who believe him even when he says things that are mendacious. I suspect he hopes not only to solidify their loyalty but to recapture some fraction of the feeling he had standing in front of large crowds and getting them to cheer his outrageous promises. I don’t see how all this won’t get him into more trouble, but I have been surprised all along at his ability to win in the end, so I may be wrong.
It’s been said that Luke is a gospel that gets preachers into trouble, but I say unto you they all have that powerful possibility. Still, reading this chapter (Luke 14), I get the point. It’s serious business to be one of the people who follows Jesus. He’s a different kind of provocateur of the established power structure, and we’re going to find ourselves in that position, too, if we pay attention to him. In Chapter 14 alone, he stresses that Sabbath laws are less important than taking care of people; reverses our understanding of the precedence we think we deserve in his description of the seating at a wedding banquet; he reinforces the principle with a story about people who are too busy to accept an invitation, because they are too preoccupied with worldly matters. Who gets invited in? The people who are too poor or sickly to have those preoccupations. Finally, he makes it clear that we have to calculate whether we are ready to give it all up to follow him, even our families.
Large crowds were traveling with Jesus. Turning to them, he said, “Whoever comes to me and doesn’t hate father and mother, spouse and children, and brothers and sisters—yes, even one’s own life—cannot be my disciple. Whoever doesn’t carry their own cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:25-27, CEB)
This isn’t super-secret wisdom only for the disciples. It’s for a large crowd.
The difference of course is that Jesus has a word for the crowd that will not make him popular – unless we are the ones who are seldom invited, would be seated at the lower end of the table, are the ones who can count up what we have and what we would lose and say yes to picking up our particular crosses and following him.
He ends the chapter with a rumination on salt. Salt that loses its flavor is no good for the soil. It’s not even good for the manure pile. Listen up, he says. Listen up.
These are the things he is always saying, to the large crowds on the road, to the disciples he trusts most, even to the establishment enemies across a dinner table.
Perhaps it seems easy for me to say this because I’m not in a pulpit right now, but we people of faith have got to find it in us to risk ourselves for the truth of the gospel. It’s been said that will get us into trouble.
I’m counting up what it will cost. I want to be at least good enough for the manure pile.
Lord, whatever the crowd we face, give us courage to speak your truth. Amen.
I’m reading and blogging about Luke for Lent. Want to read along? The full schedule can be found here.