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Jesus said to his disciples, "As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.
"This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another."
I came across the list reportedly to be the most expensive things in the world. There was a cigar for $1,150 and a bottle of champagne for $35,000. The most expensive hotel room is $65,000 per night and is in Geneva. For you golf fans.. an 18th century putter fetched $181,000 at auction.. . there was a $460,000 bottle of Scotch (I wonder if I could get a coupon for that?)… The Dodge Tomahawk V10 Superbike motorcycle is only $700,000… You can buy a pair of speakers for your stereo for a mere $2 Million… and there was this PrestigeHD television covered in 28 kilograms of 18-carat rose gold, 72 diamonds with Alligator skin trim work for only $2.3 Million…. And finally the most expensive painting went for $140 Million bucks (and can I just say that if we were to spill about ten colors of paint on the floor, lay down a canvas and set my two dogs loose in the room we too could have a similar work of art)…
If you are looking for that last minute Mother’s Day gift I suggest you check out a few of these items… I don’t know who these people are that can afford this kind of stuff, but if any of them want to tithe 10% to this church.. we’re going to let them… my goodness.
Whoever these folks are.. I wonder if they even bother looking at the price tag before buying something? I might spend a bit more on coffee than I should (Robyn says that I’m a coffee snob), but other than that I watch pretty close to see what things cost and how I can save and that is really not a bad way to begin to manage your money… first ask, “Do I really need it?” because let’s face it, no one needs an alligator skin trimmed TV… Then ask, “What does it cost?”.. and finally, “Can I afford it?”
I think it is safe to say that we all do pretty good in this department.. but this idea of what something cost is not limited to tangible items… we often weigh many of our decisions on what something will cost. What will it cost to change jobs?.. to not exercise?.. even in self-esteem… What will it cost to not have the coolest jeans or to not drive a new car… marketing companies really play on this one, because they want you to be afraid of the consequences of not having something… If you don’t use this particular brand of deodorant, there is a very good chance you will end up smelling like road kill, but if you do, all these very attractive women will throw themselves at you. (That’s never worked for me)
Even with friendships… We want to know what it will cost to be friends with a certain person... We would like to think that we don’t measure the cost of our friendships, but to a greater or lesser degree we do. How much time is involved... Are they needy or independent... Are they going to get in the way of what I want to do... What will my other friends think? It is not necessarily a monetary expense.. but there is a cost involved and we add it up to see if it is actually worth it... we place a value on each individual person and then judge whether or not we can afford.. or are willing to pay the perceived cost.
We know that our salvation – that amazing grace from God – is free.. it can’t be bought, but the cost of that salvation was very expensive, not for us, but for Jesus. He paid with His life.
In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus speaks to those who follow Him about what it will cost to do so.. and he warns them that before embarking on that life of discipleship, they should first count that cost… He says, “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’… He says the same thing is true with a king planning to go to war… the king must first determine if he can afford the battle, can he win.. if not the king will send a delegation to find terms of peace… Jesus then says, “those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.”
The Apostle Paul understood this.. He writes, “whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.”
The salvation that comes from God is free… but following Jesus is not cheap. It will cost you dearly.. for to follow Jesus is to be crucified with him and buried into his death, so that we may also participate in his resurrection… However, it is our fear of this expense.. this cost that can keep us from truly following…
Consider the rich young man who came up to Jesus… What must I do,” he asked, “to receive eternal life?” Jesus says, “keep the commandments.” “I have.” Then Jesus says, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”… and we are told that the young man was sad.. he had many possessions… and he was afraid, because the price of following Jesus was too high.
In our Gospel reading today Jesus said, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.”… Jesus calls his disciples friends… and therefore.. you.. are also friends of Jesus.
Now, while we were studying the Ragamuffin Gospel .. it made me think of a some questions… Some of you have already heard them, but let’s look at them again.. because they are questions about this relationship we have with our friend.. with Jesus….
If you weren’t afraid... how much would you give?... If you weren’t afraid that there wouldn’t be enough for you... that it wouldn’t run out... if you weren’t terrified by the proverbial rainy day, how much would you give for your Friend?...
If you weren’t afraid... how much would you care?... If you weren’t afraid of losing someone or something?... of being ridiculed or laughed at... if you weren’t afraid of shedding a tear, how much would you care for your Friend and those He cares for?...
Finally... If you weren’t afraid... how much would you love?... We’ve all had our hearts broken at least once... but if you weren’t afraid of it happening again, how much would you love?.. If you weren’t afraid of revealing your true self.. your greatest joys, hurts, weaknesses... If you weren’t afraid of death... If you weren’t afraid of being that true friend of Jesus... how much would you love?...
In the midst of a terrible battle, two soldiers who were friends became separated. As the fighting raged on all sides, one of the two soldiers suddenly saw his friend lying on the ground, badly wounded and with no protection from the bullets and the bombs… The soldier turned to his lieutenant and begged for permission to go to his friend, to try to rescue him, to try to carry him out of the firefight and to safety. The lieutenant forbade him. “I order you not to go. You would stand no chance of coming back alive.”
A moment later, while the lieutenant was turned in another direction, the soldier took off. He ran into the clearing, knelt by his friend, picked him up and began to run. Part way back, a spray of bullets hit him. But stumbling, he made it back to safety with his friend…. The lieutenant came over. He was furious and grief-stricken at the same time. He said to the soldier, “What a waste. Look at your friend. He’s dead. You brought back a dead body. And look at you. Look at your wounds. What a waste.”… The soldier looked up at the lieutenant. He smiled a sweet, sweet smile. And he said, Lieutenant, it wasn’t a waste. When I got out there, my friend was alive. He looked up at me. And he said to me, “I knew you’d come.”
If you weren’t afraid of the cost... what would you risk for your friend?... for Jesus?
Let us pray... O Dearly beloved Word of God, teach us to be generous, to serve You as You deserve, to give without counting the cost, to fight without fretting at our wounds, to labor without seeking rest, to spend ourselves without looking for any reward other than that of knowing that we do Your holy will. Amen.