Family Values and Twitter Profiles

Sermon from September 8, 2019
Luke 14: 25-33
Trinity, Jacksonville, Texas

I am someone who likes to use social media to keep up with friends.
And I use social media to catch up on the news.
Now I realize that social media has its definite downsides and pitfalls.
Yet without social media, I would have never reconnected with friends from high school.
Without social media, I would have never seen pictures of their kids – and of their cats.

At any rate, Twitter is one way that I like to use social media, because Twitter is more concise.
On Twitter, each post can only be 140 characters, which keeps the tweets short and sweet.
In setting up a Twitter account, you set up a profile page, a page that describes yourself, also in a short and concise way.

You can find me on Twitter by my Twitter handle, which is @jeffwfisher
And if you go to my Twitter profile, I also describe myself in a short and concise way.
For on Jeff Fisher’s Twitter page, I list myself like this:
Husband, father, Bishop Suffragan of Texas, Longhorn fan.
(Now even though we lost to LSU last night, and I am still proud to say that I am a Longhorn fan!)

IMG_8939

Anyway, in my Twitter profile, the first two things that I list about myself are, that I am:
A husband and a father.
And when I look at the Twitter profiles of my friends, most everyone starts their profile – by listing their family identities.

On Twitter, and in our commitments, most of us first identify ourselves – by our family relationships.
On Twitter, and in our commitments, most of us place a priority on “family values.”

Yet in the Bible, the words from Jesus that we have heard this morning certainly don’t seem to promote “family values.”

For in our reading from the Gospel of Luke today, Jesus turns around to the large crowds following him and he says:
“Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters,
Yes, even life itself, cannot be my disciple.”

In this Gospel passage, I would not particularly say that Jesus is a man of “family values.”
In this Gospel passage, Jesus says that we are to hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself.
Yet when Jesus uses the word “hate,” I believe that what Jesus means about our family loyalties is this:
In my Twitter profile, I should not list first – that I am a husband and a father.

Jesus teaches me and you to turn away, to detach ourselves, from worldly and family loyalties.
Because Jesus wants the very first thing that we list on our Twitter profile to be this:
Follower of Jesus.

And the reason that our first and primary commitment and loyalty is to Jesus –
Is because Jesus and his love for us is the only thing that is constant and forever!

For as many of us know all too well:
Mothers and fathers – age and die.
Sons and daughters – grow up to delight us, yet also disappoint us.
Brother and sisters – even from the time of Cain and Abel, are notorious for sibling rivalry.
And yes, even life itself, takes us down the road of wrinkles and hip replacements and hair loss.

Yet if we turn away from putting all of our trust in family,
If we turn away from putting all of our trust in ourselves,
If we turn away from putting all of our trust in things that pass away,
Then Jesus Christ is the only one who is the same –
Yesterday, today, and forever.

Jesus is the only person – who promises us love, a love that is never ending.
Jesus is the only person – who promises us grace, a forgiveness not based on our merits.
Jesus is the only person – who will never again disappoint us and die.
Therefore, we do not count on family values to save us.
We count on Jesus to save us!

In this last week, I have contemplated and prayed about this scripture passage.
In this last week, I have given a lot of thought to my primary loyalties and where I put my trust.

Sure, I do love my family.
And I do love my vocation as one of your bishops.
And I do love being a Longhorn fan.
Yet I realized that, in my Twitter profile, I had not even listed my trust in the love of Jesus.

Therefore, I logged onto Twitter yesterday.
And I took another look at my listed profile that says:
Husband, father, Bishop Suffragan of Texas, Longhorn fan.

And I clicked on the “Edit Profile” button, and I typed in an addition to the beginning of my list.
Now my Twitter profile says this:
Follower of Jesus, husband, father, Bishop Suffragan of Texas, Longhorn fan.

During our worship service today, and during the week ahead, I invite you to take an inventory of your life and of your loyalties.
Even if you don’t have a Twitter profile, ponder what your profile would look like, as you list the sources of your life.

For “family values” can bring us temporary happiness.
Yet our family members and friends can never give us the Jesus values – of amazing grace and peace.
Family and friends can never give us the Jesus values – of salvation and unlimited forgiveness from our sins.
Family and friends can never give us the Jesus values – of a love that never dies.

In the Bible, Jesus says:
“Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters,
Yes, even life itself, cannot be my disciple.”

Jesus says:
Edit your Twitter profile.
Then come,

And follow me.

AMEN.

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