Readings for the Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Deuteronomy 30:15-20; Philemon 1-21; Luke 14:25-33

Think about the biggest decisions you’ve had to make in your life: your choice of a spouse, a job offer that would require you to move, etc. These are what I’d call all-or-nothing choices. You didn’t have the option of a partial commitment, “dipping your toes in the water” so to speak just to test how things would go. It had to be a hard YES or a hard NO, and no looking back.

Jesus tells us that this is how it is with following him. We either follow or we don’t. There can be no sometimes listening, or obeying him only insofar as it doesn’t demand too much of me. The LORD requires our undivided loyalty. Of course, Jesus wouldn’t ask us for something he wasn’t committed to giving himself – his complete devotion to the goal of delivering us from sin (Lk 14).

In the Old Testament reading Moses presents Israel with an all-or-nothing choice. Entrust their lives to God in faith-filled obedience and enjoy his blessing, or chase after idols and fall under God’s curse. Again, prior to this choice, God had already proven His love and commitment to Israel by delivering them from slavery (Dt 30).

The Epistle reading records the Apostle Paul’s intercession with Philemon, a wealthy Christian, on behalf of his runaway bondservant, Onesimus. Paul asks Philemon to welcome his servant back, no longer as an inferior, but as a brother in Christ (Ph 1).