VIEWS: 3 PAGES: 4 POSTED ON: 12/3/2011
DO NOT WORRY. LUKE 12.22-44 Holy Communion, Christ Church 3 October, 2010 Through the word written and the word spoken may we see the Living Word, Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen This recession has affected almost all of us in some way. You may be one of the fortunate ones who are still employed and you‟re back receiving large bonuses. If so you face the question, „How should I spend or invest my money?‟ At the same time there are many people on fixed incomes who have savings but are receiving very low rates of return. Many have retired and depend on their savings for income. I‟m one of them having retired last year from the Civil Service. How are we to invest our money? With this in mind, imagine yourself as one of Jesus‟ disciples. You have just heard Jesus condemn the rich man for tearing down his barns to build bigger ones. The man in the story dies. Jesus then turns to you and says, “So will it be with all those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God” (12.21) There were of course some differences between Jesus‟ disciples and the rich man in the story. The man who has a bumper crop is rich already. The rich man‟s greed motivates him to tear down his barns and build bigger ones so that he can „eat, drink and be merry‟ (12.19). Nevertheless Jesus‟ disciples are worried. And that‟s the reason why our text begins with the word „therefore.‟ It‟s there for a reason. Jesus‟ hearers were worried about what would happen to them if they didn‟t spend their money to provide for their futures. What would they eat; and what they would wear? If we’re older, our pension income is fixed and inflation is eating away the value of our savings, how do we really know we won’t need that money with interest after all? If we’re younger then we face the possibility that threatens many in the years to come: no fixed employment, no family support and no pension. Surely we always need that extra bit of money. Jesus’ advice is, ‘Do not worry’ (v22) He then gives his reasons. Worry won‟t do you any good. It can‟t add to the length or quality of your life, which is really more important than food or clothing (vv. 25, 26). 1 In fact doctors today would say that worry and stress shorten your life. Jesus has two remedies. Trust God. God feeds the ravens (v.25) which are unclean animals, the low of the low to a Jew. God clothes the flowers that bloom for a day; and are so abundant they‟re used in a land without much wood to fuel the oven the day after (v.28). You are worth more to God than the raven or the wild flowers (vv 24, 28). God will therefore care for you. The second cure is to be different. Don‟t be like the people around you who think first about food and clothing. One of the things I learnt about recently at Regent College in Vancouver was the psychological theory of ‘flow’. We’ve all experienced flow. It’s the wonderful feeling we can get when we’re really caught up in our work. Flow happens when we’re challenged by a piece of work and we have the resources to do that work. Then we focus on our work and we forget about time and other problems. Flow is the opposite of worry and anxiety. We become worried and anxious when we face a challenge that is greater than our capability to meet it. The more dire the consequences, or the smaller our resources, then the greater the anxiety. Well, says Jesus, shift your attention to a different challenge. Don‟t put yourself at the centre. Change your goal. Instead strive to make God‟s purpose the centre of your life. Follow God; be one of his loyal subjects. That‟s what it means to seek the God‟s Kingdom (v31). Then God will give you the capabilities to meet that challenge. Then you won‟t worry. Don‟t be afraid. Trust me. In fact says Jesus give some of your money away. Then you‟ll have a different sort of investment. You‟ll have an investment that will last. In those days people invested some of their wealth in expensive clothes. But this wealth could be literally eaten away by moths. Today‟s equivalent would be inflation, metaphorically eating up the purchasing power of your savings. Invest with God. Then bankers and governments won‟t take it away from you. What sort of investment is it? It‟s an investment in relationships. 2 There are several other parables where Jesus makes the same point. But an example of it is given in verse 37. The master, that is, God, takes on the role of a servant and serves his servants who are faithful and ready to serve Him. In other words, we will receive the honour of God. People give their wealth for a knighthood or to appear on the cover of Hello magazine. How much greater to be honoured by God! But why is there this jump (v.35) in the text from not worrying to a parable about waiting? Jesus here describes servants who are waiting for their master to return from a wedding party. They have lights ready to turn on when they hear him coming. And they have tied their belts about their waist to hitch up their robes so they can run to the door when he comes. I think the connection is that the parable is not just about waiting. It‟s about waiting, being ready to serve. If we take Jesus at His word and trust God to provide for our needs, isn’t the natural temptation not to do anything? Aren’t we at risk of becoming lazy or disinterested in other people? Don‟t give in to that temptation, says Jesus. If you aren‟t ready to serve then God won‟t honour you. We may be asking ourselves at this point whether all of this really applies to me today. The same thought entered Peter‟s mind. You see, if you told a story to a Fist Century Jew about a master and a servant they would know immediately who these people represented. The master was God and the servants were Israel. So does this parable refer to the Jewish people who should be ready to receive the God in the person of Jesus; but who are not prepared to receive Him? Or does it refer to the disciples, perhaps especially to the twelve? That question‟s what leads Jesus to expand his parable. I don‟t think there would have been any point in him doing this if He didn‟t think the story applied to His disciples. They had better watch out that when the master comes in the person of Jesus that they are feeding the other servants. The image is strong. If they don‟t they will be cut limb from limb. They will be sent to be with the unbelievers. I think that eleven of the twelve disciples remembered this parable. Doesn‟t Luke tell us in Acts that the disciples waited on tables, that they distributed alms to the widows? Then, Luke also tells us in Acts that the disciples delegated these tasks to other believers (Acts 6.1-6). Indeed some of the believers sold their possessions to give to the needy among them (Acts 4.34, 35). 3 This makes me think, that we too in our day are supposed to be caring for our brothers and sisters in Christ. Is this not in fact the way in which God intends to provide the food and clothing and other needs for those who seek first the kingdom of God? It seems to me that there is a great opportunity to work out new ways of investing our money to help those in need. What more can we do for the equivalent of the widows in Acts? And what about the savers in Christ Church; and the business people who need investment capital to employ people? What can we do to provide the opportunities for Generations X and Y without full time jobs and little pension prospects? God‟s people have been remarkably inventive at meeting the practical needs such as these. In Guildford we‟re fortunate to have YMCA with its Plantation Enterprise. We‟ve also heard recently in Christ church about Besom; but there‟s a sister organisation to Besom called FACE to Face in Battersea which is a social enterprise incubator. Elsewhere there are many more examples of what other have done. What now can we do? Perhaps it‟s time to rise to the challenge, time to use God‟s wonderful gifts, time to get in the flow. Amen. 4
"DO NOT WORRY"