-Rev Melissa Fain-
25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus. Turning to them, he said,26 “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. 27 Whoever doesn’t carry their own cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
28 “If one of you wanted to build a tower, wouldn’t you first sit down and calculate the cost, to determine whether you have enough money to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when you have laid the foundation but couldn’t finish the tower, all who see it will begin to belittle you. 30 They will say, ‘Here’s the person who began construction and couldn’t complete it!’ 31 Or what king would go to war against another king without first sitting down to consider whether his ten thousand soldiers could go up against the twenty thousand coming against him? 32 And if he didn’t think he could win, he would send a representative to discuss terms of peace while his enemy was still a long way off. 33 In the same way, none of you who are unwilling to give up all of your possessions can be my disciple.
Luke 14:25-33 CEB
Those who know me, like really know me, understands that I like to create and build. The essence of my nature, is to perceive potential and bring that potential into being.
Sometimes all those pieces come together and it's amazing. When it's me myself and I, I can confidently play out the plan, and I know it will work. I don't need someone else at my craft area. I can create amazing Halloween costumes for my kids, or draw up signs for scouts without anyone else's help.
Other times, always when the perceived potential involves others, I must lament the loss of what was never allowed to be. I worded it this way on purpose.
Like you probably did, my first read through of our scripture seemed to warn against action. Remember 2008? At least in the metro-Atlanta area, there were a ginormous amount of unfinished building projects left to rot! How many contractors lost everything to the Great Recession, while their paid concrete did nothing except became an eye sore to the general public? It appears this scripture screams to our 2008 selves to stop!
Back in 2014 I wrote on "abundance" versus "just enough." Biblically, God is going to give the people just enough to get the physical project done, while offering an abundance of Spiritual needs. When God's physical plan doesn't have enough, that's the result of the gluttony of someone else. While I feel the message is universal, I wrote it for myself. I could feel a transition happening in our family. We were reaching the end of survival mode where "just enough" was literal penny counting! I wrote it to warn myself: as I was entering a place where my family's security was going to be a bit more stable, I needed to remember I could become the glutton. I could keep someone else from having just enough.
This is where we get back to our scripture for today. I come from a long line of dreamers, but unlike Joseph and his amazing technicolor dream coat, any dream won't do. I'm far more interested in dreams that have meat, or have purpose. There are things in this world that need help. We should be able to easily fund mission. Meeting the needs of our greatest needs should be the easiest task. Yet it's not.
We get antsy to give up our abundance to build anything. (Especially for those who've felt the sting of poverty and have come through the other side.) This scripture says something extremely difficult to hear. Let me give you the "too long, didn't read version."
TL:DR- You can't build anything unless you are willing to sacrifice and give up something to do it.
This is why we have so much trouble building dreams with meat. We live in a world where sacrifice means less and less, and scarcity means more and more. On one side we're being offered quick and easy solutions to difficult problems, on the other side the Rainforest is burning and what's been burned will never be returned.
Yet Jesus still asks us to give it up, plan, and build. It's scandalous. It's potential. It's a choice. Together it's possible. Alone, it's a fool's errand. Ultimately, here's the big truth: We have more value and worth than we realize. The real reason potential never happens isn't because the items were not there to build, but because we made ourselves believe we had less than we actually did. We just need to bring ourselves to act. Tomorrow might be too late.
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