Monday, July 26, 2010

Talking about money Luke 12:13-21

End of July greetings to any and all readers.
I've been blessed with some good distractions this past month. Time with my family, in laws, and Godparents at the start of the month and a visit with my sister, niece, and my folks last week. But now I am back trying to figure out what to say this coming Sunday.

Reading the gospel for this week there's plenty to talk about. Jesus spoke about a rich man who God called a fool. The question is do we as Jesus' followers today have the guts to have such a conversation with ourselves and our neighbors like Jesus had with the people around him.

A man came to Jesus asking him to settle an dispute with his brother about the family estate. Jesus asked the man, "who set me to be a judge." Then he warned the people to be on guard against all kinds of greed. Jesus was really warning the people to be on guard against idols, false gods, who will enslave us and distract us from the real God.

Jesus confronted the idols of money and possession with a story about a rich farmer. Many would have considered the farmer wise in the ways of this world and that's why Jesus story in Luke just cut to the core. Jesus said he prospered so much that he needed to build bigger barns to hold all his harvest. As the project was completed he said to his soul,

Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry. Luke 12:19 NRSV.
Jesus made it very clear that God had another view of the situation.
But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God. Luke 12:20-21 NRSV.
Jesus has a way of cutting through our false gods, shredding through them so quickly that we end up standing before the one true God naked with absolutely no place to hide. Our list of false god's and dumb idols includes, but is not limited to, money and possessions. The hardest part of confronting idol worship of any kind is the denial that most people have of their own idolatry.
Last summer David Lose at Luther Seminary organized a gathering for young pastors to present on ideas of interest to them that might be of interest to others. He asked us to use the ignite format. Present 20 images that auto advance every 15 seconds while talking about an idea of great interest to us. I showed up with our 5 month old , now 17 month old daughter ready for a day full of presentations but as I remember only 2 of us came with anything to spark conversation.
I came with a presentation about money, and an invitation to other pastors to be willing to talk about money. It was good to see that David Lose is ready to pick up the conversation about money again. You can read his invitation to conversation about money this week at Working Preacher.
The question in the first two slides were in part sparked by a question in the Thrivent More Than Money Matters material.

So what do you think.
Is the church really ready to have a conversation about money in the midst of a struggling economy. Are we ready, as Christ's people, to be free from the shackles of false gods. Jesus invites us to come to him and take his light yoke upon our shoulders instead of the overbearing yoke that comes from our infatuation with money and things.


Tmiester said...

That is a struggle, On one hand we have the parable of the Talents and investing, taking chances and being rewarded. On the other hand with the Farmer obviously he took chances and came out ahead, question is, would his life been asked of him if he hadn't declared himself a success and continued to grow and develop instead? If I work hard aren’t I entitled to Luxuries? Am I to take a life of Poverty? As my sweetheart would say stop thinking black and white, think shades of gray. I see the same thing happen time and again with Budgets, well we don’t have enough Money, should we approve the budget trusting God will Provide? Seems like a loaded question to me, Logically we shouldn’t pass the Budget, but put in that situation and put that way, anyone who would disagree would be saying they didn’t trust God. It’s another gray area, If I stopped working and said God would provide, who is to blame if I freeze to death in the winter? God because he didn’t give me a coat? Or Me because God gave me Gifts and I did not use them to the fullest, providing for me and my family? I think it would be my fault! Why is it Money is mentioned the most in the Bible but still the trickiest to understand how to utilize? Personally I think it was mentioned so often as a Warning, kind of like playing with “Fire” because of the reasons you stated!

Stratoz said...

Yes, Jesus can make us feel that way. as in "now why did he also have to say ..." when it hits us in our false Gods. My minister toot it to include Time not just money... we hoard plenty of things in our barns. peace be with you.

Unlikely said...

You have a very wise sweetheart. She's quite right about the grey areas in terms of money. I see them most as we seperate our wants from our needs and as we try to live in faith of God's provision both of the wisdom to make smart choices and the wisdom to take risks believing that God provides for us.
you are quite right that we can hoard more than money.
Thanks for reading