On December 29th, I had the surprising privilege of preaching in Key Largo, Florida in an area known as Ocean Reef. This has got to be one of the most beautiful parts of creation, so it was a sheer joy to travel there even for a short time.
The community chapel has Roman Catholic, Jewish, and Protestant services. Meg’s parents happen to be friends with a couple that’s a part of the Protestant group, and they were able to help arrange for me to preach. Meg also encouraged me to preach from Luke 14:25-35. Here are the Lord Jesus’s words:
Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.
“Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
As I tell the congregation, I think these are some of the most personally challenging verses in all of Scripture. So it was particularly powerful to me to preach this sermon just a couple weeks after graduating from seminary. It was as if the Lord was saying, “So you really want to give your life to this?” And once again I heard Jesus’ radical call over all of my life before heading out into a life of vocational ministry.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book Discipleship (or The Cost of Discipleship) was especially stimulating in my preparation for this sermon. I also read through Radical by David Platt and Christ’s Call to Discipleship by James Montgomery Boice.