Readings for the 16th Sunday after Pentecost

Luke 14:25-35; Philemon 1-21; Deuteronomy 30:15-20

Every agreement comes with Terms and Conditions. Whether you’re signing loan documents or just downloading a new app for your phone. There are certain conditions we must agree to before using them. Of course, most of us just check the “Agree” box and move on without actually reading it. Who has time for all that small print legalese?

Jesus wants his followers to understand the terms and conditions of being one of his disciples. In this there can be no checking the box and moving on. Discipleship is hard. It requires the submission of all things – our relationships, our desires, our possessions – to Christ. To love any of these more than Christ is to depart from the path of faith (Lk 14).

In the Old Testament lesson, Moses presents a similar challenge to Israel. They can choose the blessings of life and freedom that come through obedience to God, or they can choose to chase after false gods and suffer the grave consequences (Deut 30).

The epistle lesson is a letter written by the apostle Paul to his friend and fellow Christian leader, Philemon. In the letter, Paul appeals to Philemon for the sake of Christian love to welcome back his runaway slave, Onesimus, who has become a Christian. Philemon is to receive him now as a brother in Christ, no longer a slave (Philemon).

Jesus Christ has set us free from sin and death. Though following him is not easy, it is the only way that leads to eternal happiness and life.