15 Aug The Good Life
So, I’m gonna start with a question. It’s a personal question that I’m not going to ask you to share with anyone, so you don’t have to worry or stress about having to come up with some form of an answer that won’t offend your neighbor. It’s a question I’m asking me personally as well, and praying that I can be as honest with myself as I have asked you to be with yourself. And no, I’m not sharing either.
But the question is: If you were completely honest with yourself, how many of the ten commandments have you broken?
We all know them, or at least the gist of them, even if it’s been awhile since Sunday School for many of us. Moses got them on the mountain, brought them to this new nation before him, brought them to US. They are a foundational part of our faith and just as foundational as the Lord’s Prayer Pastor Mark taught about last week.
They are part of the promise we make as parents to children in our baptismal liturgy, part of the promise we make as God’s children in how we’ll support one another, and how we live our life as a disciple. You… We are the modern-day Apostles of Jesus Christ, powered by God’s Spirit, a Holy Spirit promised to be our advocate, to go out & SHARE these teachings. To share our faith. To make Disciples, to Baptize in the name of the Holy Trinity.
We’ve had a ton of baptisms this Summer. It’s my single most favorite part of worship, every single time. Have you ever really paid attention to the promises WE make in Baptism? To TRUST God, to TRULY TRUST GOD with our lives. To work for JUSTICE and PEACE, to TRULY care for one another, AND the world God made. Every single time we hear these things and we say these things. And we pray for the strength to TRULY try and raise our kids, and raise one-another, as we grow in our Christian faith and life together, to live our lives in the same manner.
Jesus Talked about Greed
The Ten Commandments are first found in the book of Exodus Chapter 20. (Exodus 20:1-17) This picture is actually of Moses smashing the ten commandments after he came down the mountain and found the golden calf, the graven image. The first set didn’t last very long. And if we are truly being honest with ourselves, it would probably be a much shorter conversation to talk about which of the ten commandments we HAVEN’T broken. That’s the short list!
And the barn guy in our story today (Luke 12:13-21), the rich man, who had experienced a great harvest. On the surface, this story doesn’t tell us he had broken any commandments. On the contrary it sounds like his farm is a pretty well-run operation. But Jesus isn’t warning us about being rich in this story. It’s not a sin to be rich, Jesus tells the crowd that is gathered there before him on the road to Jerusalem. And we’re told now at this point in Luke’s gospel, that the crowd numbers in the thousands. By 1st century standards this is a movement, a gathered mass of humanity being taught by Jesus. Which isn’t often the picture we think about Jesus, teaching the masses. But in front of thousands of people he chose to talk about GREED. Be on your guard, Jesus says. Be on your guard against ALL kinds of GREED.
And 2000 years later we know that ALL means ALL. There are ALL kinds of GREED in our world today. GREED is idolatry. It’s not about the money, the Good Life. It’s about what is inside your heart, what is close to your heart, what weighs heavy on your heart, what breaks your heart. And what makes your heart jump for joy, jump right out of your chest!
Everything Belongs to God
It’s about TRULY understanding, trying to TRULY understand that EVERYTHING you have is not yours. Every single thing. Your family, your friends, your community, your work, your intimacy, your impatience, your possessions, your dreams, your hopes and your desires. EVERYTHING YOU HAVE IS NOT YOURS, IT ALL BELONGS TO GOD. God and GREED both make claims on us during our time here on earth. It’s a battle as old as the universe itself. It’s about money and power, GREED’S ability to impoverish our souls, rewrite our ethics and values. To turn our gaze inward, existing in a continuous and never-ending fight for self-preservation. To look towards our money alone to help us survive. To place our TRUST in our wealth, our possessions, our consumption to ensure us that we are living the good life. And not TRUSTING in GOD to bring us life abundantly.
It goes back to those baptismal promises, to TRUST God, and to TRUST one another and care for one another. And if you were standing there today, back on the road to Jerusalem and trying to define the GOOD LIFE; based on what Jesus was saying and Jesus was teaching, you would most likely come to the conclusion that the GOOD LIFE has a lot less to do with our possessions, and a lot more to do with our RELATIONSHIPS. Our RELATIONSHIP to God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit, and our RELATIONSHIPS with one-another. Luke’s gospel makes it pretty clear these two things can’t really be separated.
One commentator explains that money can do lots of wonderful things—it can provide for you and your family, it can be given to others in need, it can be used to create jobs and promote the general welfare, and it can make possible a more comfortable life. It just can’t produce the kind of full and abundant life that each of us seeks and that Jesus promises. So, it’s not about the money. It’s about our attitude towards the money and those around us. And we all know this in some way shape or form, at every age we learn this, money can’t buy happiness.
The Struggle is Real
But we all know that if we’re staying with this theme of being honest with ourselves, we know it’s a constant battle. We know we ALL struggle to live this way.
And no wonder! With the world we live in, where we’re bombarded with messages that seduce our soul, it’s just like the barn guy in our story today. What’s in it for me, ME – ME – ME!!! Cause no matter what happens I’m gonna get mine. I will pull down my barns and build bigger ones and there I will store my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you da man! Eat drink and be merry!” The Barn Guy talks only to himself, I – I – I, He’s completely self-absorbed.
The Good News for us today, in this story, is that EVERYTHING you have is not yours, it belongs to God. Our lives, our possessions are not our own. They ALL belong to God. The GOOD NEWS reveals to us that it’s about what’s in our hearts. And it’s OK to eat & drink and be merry & give thanks to God for our blessings. Even Jesus was accused of being a glutton and a drunkard. But he also TRUSTED in his relationship with God, and the relationship he was building with his disciples. The LOVE and GRACE and MERCY of God are worth more than anything we can possibly possess in this world. The gift of the Holy Spirit in our lives. This is the HOPE Jesus provides to the thousands gathered on the road to Jerusalem, to we who gather here today on our own faith journey.
Do Not Worry
Jesus tells us in the verses immediately following our story today (Luke 12:22-34):
22b“Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. 23For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. 24Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! 25And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? 26If then you are not able to do so small a thing as that, why do you worry about the rest? 27Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. 28But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and [gone tomorrow], how much more will he clothe you! 29And do not keep striving for what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not keep worrying. 30For it is the nations of the world that strive after all these things, and your [God] knows that you need them. 31Instead, strive for the kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. 32“Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your God’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom… Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
God Cares for YOU
And along our journey tells us today to always remember that God cares for us more than we can ever imagine. God cares for you, more than you can ever imagine. God feeds us and clothes us and the Holy Spirit is there beside us to help us do the same for others. This journey to Jerusalem is a journey to the heart; a journey where we are called as God’s children to look beyond ourselves. To TRUST God and to CARE for one-another and the world God made.
That is TRULY the GOOD LIFE, according to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. AMEN!