Thesis:Where is the "profit" in refusing Jesus' invitation?
Introduction:We have been looking into Jesus' explanation of the price of discipleship. We have seen that He draws a hard and firm line that actually divides the experiences of "joy" and "grief". We have also seen that there is no place for "bargaining" or "qualifying".
In our study last week I attempted to explain that Jesus' warning about "saving and losing" and "losing and saving" centers upon the condition of a person's experience of fruitful relationships in their ability to yield the joy of Life. It was my argument that the crux of the "saving/losing/losing/saving" terminology has to do with which relationship(s) are "saved" or "lost". If a person seeks to "save" his relational self by refusing to become a practicing disciple, his relationship with Christ will be lost in terms of any real interaction. But if a person is willing to "lose" his relational self by self-denial, cross-bearing, and actively practicing Jesus' teaching [and make no mistake: the damage this will create in relationships with other human beings in this fallen world is very real], his relationship with Christ will grow in quality and substance.
This morning we are going to pursue the negative alternative by looking into Jesus' "question of profit".
I. The First Issue: Profit.
A. Jesus was specifically addressing the distinct difference between "material profit" and "Life profit".
1. The issue of "gain" is the acquisition of a desired objective.
2. The alternatives are "the acquisition of a whole world full of material wealth" and "the acquisition of a whole soul full of the joy of Life".
a. The either/or nature of the alternative is not established by any inherent contradiction between material wealth and the joy of Life.
b. The either/or nature of Jesus' distinction is rooted in His summons and His hearers' temptation to find excuses to not follow Him into self-denial and cross-bearing.
3. The distinction is a matter of "T"heology and "lip service".
a. The intention to acquire material wealth is greed when that intention is more than the superficial intention of those who understand God's methods (1 Timothy 6:9).
b. Greed is idolatry (Colossians 3:5) because it attaches "Life" capacity to material possessions.
c. There is no inheritance in the Kingdom for the idolatrous (1 Corinthians 6:9).
d. It does not matter what a person "says" about his view of wealth (lip service is nothing); it only matters what his real view of wealth happens to be. [Illustration: The H's fixation upon the acquisition of material wealth and its long-term outworking.]
4. The final determination is not revealed in the short term.
a. Jesus' "gain the whole world" terminology is not a short term concept, but a life long expenditure of effort.
b. Few actions reveal their fruit in short order (though, like the thief on the cross, there are a few).
B. Jesus was specifically addressing an issue that is simultaneously deceptive and revealed.
1. Because "acquisition" can be "explained" as to motive, self-deception and the deception of others is relatively easy.
2. Because the fact that decisions like the one Jesus has set before His hearers will invariably raise the question of "material" consequences, those who make their decisions on the basis of material outcomes reveal their hidden heart.
II. The Second Issue: The Underlying Rationale.
A. No one sets out to deceive and destroy himself.
B. Everyone has "reasons" for the choices they make.
1. In our text, the "choice" is whether one will "come after Jesus" or "chase the substitute".
2. Why do people chase the substitute?
a. Because they have adopted a "faith" position.
1) The "faith" that drives the "acquisition" mentality is rooted in what Jesus called "the soul", but our translators called one's "life".
2) At the root of "the soul" is one most fundamental reality: the condition of one's emotions.
a) The "soul" is fundamentally the center of what we call our "emotions".
b) It is necessary for us to understand that the soul has two most basic aspects: one of those aspects is the ability to declare what significance a given perception has; and the other is the auto-response to that perception in emotional terms (joy, peace, anger, fear, etc.)
c) The main problems for the soul are two: first, the soul's ability to declare the significance of a given perception is "bound" by the degree of understanding that it has (wise or foolish); and, second, the soul has no ability to actually alter the object of the perception.
3) At the root of the soul's "faith" system is its most fundamental "mechanism" for handling the "problems" (foolishness and inability).
a) Biblically, this "mechanism" was established by God in terms of a "relational harmony" between Himself and the one who is "a soul".
b) Sin introduced two major corruptions.
i. The first major corruption was the shifting of the focus of relational harmony from God to another/other person/people (this was the very core of Adam's sin: it was a very basic failure to "love" God enough to "trust" Him.
ii. The second major corruption was the shifting of the focus from other creatures to monetary wealth (this occurred because those "other creatures" invariably, eventually, are proven to have other commitments that are greater than their commitment to the one seeking what the soul seeks, but "money" can generally be used to "buy" a greater level of commitment from them.
b. Because their faith position is strongly supported by what is typical of today's "faith" talk: though it gives no real basis for the expectation of success and has to fly in the face of all manner of contradictory evidence that it is a fraud, the "talk" is sufficiently supportive as to hide the truth.
III. The Third Issue: An Absolute Loss.
A. The two words Jesus used combine to present what I am calling "an absolute loss".
B. Though "absolute" tends to indicate "comprehensive", that is not what I mean: I mean specific, choice/action-generated, no recovery loss in the Matthew 10:42;2 John 1:8; and Hebrews 12:16-17 sense.