S sermon based on Matthew 16: 21-28 and Jeremiah15: 15-21
So I am sitting here in my beach chair, in my visor golf hat, with my shades on,….. relaxing with my cigar and a nice bottle of Corona to sip on.
This is what most people would call living…… ‘The Good Life’!
And its a beautiful thing if you can manage to have it and afford it.

I once did a bible study on the gift of ‘affluence’ that God bestows upon some.
Contrary to a lot of ranting and raving about hating on the rich and demonizing them,…
there is nothing wrong with being rich and having good things in life.
God intended for us to be happy and to be fruitful;… just go back and read Genesis.
In the beginning of the bible it says that God wants this for his people he created.

So to be able to live in ease and be comfortable with pleasant surroundings is good.
Jesus never said that the rich were bad either.
He used the rich as examples if they loved their riches more than they loved God.
And so,… if that is the case with you, then that is not living the Christian life.
If you are not willing sacrifice some comfort or pleasures or wealth;…there’s the rub.

In another familiar Gospel lesson, we heard Jesus tell his disciples of his plans.
He says he must go to Jerusalem, undergo great suffering, and be killed.
Peter, once again speaking for the rest of them and their thoughts, says ‘No way!’
This must never happen to you” he implores Jesus as a caring and loving friend.

Then Jesus throws the famous line at him - “Get thee behind me, Satan!” he says.
He calls Peter “a stumbling block” and says “you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things”.
Which means that Peter is just being a normal human being in that he does not want his friend, Jesus, whom he adores, to have to suffer, let alone die.
But Jesus’ reminds him that there are higher and greater goals and purposes life.

Peter, once again, is just like you and me and almost anybody else.
He wants the good things that Jesus brings and the best for he and Jesus,…..
but he wants to avoid anything that might cause suffering or pain or death.
Peter and the others dreamed of Jesus succeeding and them all living the good life.

Jesus next tells Peter more specifically what he is talking about when he says “If any want to be my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.  For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.  For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life?  Or what will they give in return for their life?

Its not that Peter was a bad guy or that his intentions were not heart-felt for Jesus.
Its just that what Peter was proposing was the same thing the devil proposed to Jesus.
When he was in the desert and Satan came to Jesus, he offered the things we all want.
Luxury, leisure, abundance and power and the life of Riley….. i.e. ‘The Good Life’.
But,… he offered all that in exchange for Jesus giving up his ministry doing God’s will.

There is nothing wrong with all those good things we have in life, or even affluence.
But there is something wrong,….not in accord with following Jesus,…if they preclude our willingness to engage in hardship, sacrifice or even some suffering on behalf of God.
If we are motivated first and foremost, or solely, on gaining or securing The Good Life, then we can end up avoiding the godly life.
If we choose comfort and convenience over doing for God’s sake and risking anything., then we fail to follow Jesus.

So from just a couple days in the newspaper I found countless examples,..
*not the least of which were the many persons who left behind their comforts and conveniences to help those trying to escape flood waters down in Texas, etc.
*an ESPN college football announcer gave up his lucrative paying job as a sign of protest against the violence that football does to people’s brains.
*a Mexican journalist, the son of a very successful businessman gave up that to spend the last 20 years pointing out and working against corruption in the government there.

But on a personal level,….we don’t have to do grand things that are newsworthy.
How about the child who shares his dessert with another kid.
How about the young person who gives up partying to be the designated driver.
How about the family that forgoes a vacation to go on a work mission trip instead.
How about the elder person who sacrifices part of a Social Security check for a charity.
There are many small and everyday ways that we can make small sacrifices for good.
Ways that we can  “carry our cross” rather than just carry on enjoying every daily life.

It can sometimes not be a happy job and can, at times, leave you feeling a bit lonely
From the prophet Jeremiah we heard him say to the Lord who appointed him,…
know that on your account I suffer insult”.  I did not sit in the company of merrymakers, nor did I rejoice; under the weight of your hand I sat alone”.
To act on behalf of the Lord, and to therefore sacrifice, can mean not joining with the majority, reveling with the partiers, or feeling separated from everyone around you.

But, as God told Jeremiah, in the end" they will look up to you, not you to them".
And "I will make you a fortified wall of bronze….for I am with you."
"I will deliver you……and redeem you".
So we have an assurance from God will help us in this.
And so, when we sacrifice for Jesus sake' we are really and truly living 'The Good Life'

Amen