Monthly Archives: September 2012

Is My Life Worthwhile?

“Then Jesus said to them, “Watch out! Guard yourself against all kinds of greed. After all, one’s life isn’t determined by one’s possessions, even when someone is very wealthy.”

What is greed?

Several years ago a young couple announced during Sunday school that she was going quit her job and stay home to raise their three children. They were determined to live on his teacher’s salary. We applauded them for their courage to follow through on their beliefs.

A few months later we sat in the same church school class as the wife and mother castigated “rich” people. She talked about the wealthy who drive nice cars and have nice homes. She criticized them for not tithing to the church or working for the kingdom.

At that time I drove a nice car and my husband and I owned a rather large home. We tithed and we worked on mission projects.  I was hurt by her remarks. She had no idea what our value system was. She made the assessment based only on my little sports car.

What is greed? Is it having nice stuff? Is it being able to purchase anything you want? Perhaps it’s having a big house and an expensive car. Are you greedy because you enjoy traveling?

Jesus often warned against greed in the gospels. He expressed concern for the wealthy because of the temptation to rely on the power of money rather than on God.

I’ve come to understand that greed is a form of possession.  When you buy “stuff” that you don’t need, perhaps the “stuff” is possessing you.  When you have what you need and can’t be satisfied you’re possessed.  When having the latest gadget or upgrade to your home is the most important thing in your life, you’re possessed.

And when you’re possessed how worthwhile can your life be?  You’re living a worthwhile life when you can feel joy despite the fact that life isn’t very joyful.  You’re living a worthwhile life when God is at the center of that life. You’re living a worthwhile life when money and possessions are controlled by you rather than the other way around.

All wealthy people are not greedy.  Some of my wealthy friends are cash rich, others are cash poor.  All of them have more important things on their minds than being possessed by anything other than their love of God.

It’s been years since I’ve seen the couple who made that courageous decision.  I’d hope that they were able to continue with their family plan.  And perhaps they now understand how money really works.

Because if they have, they are truly living a worthwhile life.

All glory and honor be to God.  Amen.

 

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Banquet Expectations

“He directed the disciples to seat all the people in groups as though they were having a banquet on the green grass. They sat in hundreds and fifties. He took the five loaves and the two fish, looked up to heaven, blessed them, broke the loaves into pieces, and gave them to his disciples to set before the people…Everyone ate until they were full.” (Mark 6:39-42 CEB)

How did Jesus do that?

How did he take a few measly loaves of bread and a couple of fish and feed 5,000 people?  Sure, he was divine. But, he was also human. Humans can’t do that.

Can they?

After World War II, the soldiers came home to rebuild their lives.  Along with building homes and big business, there was a strong sense of citizenship.  Taking care of each other and being in community with each other was important.

There is a cafe in the community where I serve that has a special table.  It’s fondly called, “The Liar’s Table” but every morning several people, usually veterans of WWI and Korea, sit and visit.  They see each other almost every day.  They probably share the same stories and opinions.  But, they understand this sense of citizenship and being with each other makes a difference in their lives.

Today, we live in an age of consumerism.  Whatever we need can be bought for a price.  We think we don’t need each other.  We don’t need a Liar’s Table at the local cafe and we certainly don’t need church.

We’re wrong.  We need people.  We need the kind of community that Jesus built with 5,000 people, five loaves of bread and two fish.  The disciples made a meager offering of all they had.  Jesus blessed it and served it.  A meager amount turned into a banquet of abundance.

Fortunately community can be found in various places.  Obviously, for me, the strongest community can (should be) found within the church.  Church is a place where we feel each other’s pain and celebrate another’s joys.  Church is where we pray together, fellowship with joy, worship as one body and do mission.

There’s nothing that can replace a good church community that reaches in to care for each other and turns outside to care for the stranger.  When you find that kind of community, look for the meager offering.  They offer it with joy, submit themselves and their offering to Christ and brace themselves for the banquet.

Knowing that, do we dare to offer God our bold dreams?

All glory and honor be to God.

Amen.


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