After the Sermon: Reaching for the Eternal Luke 12:31-34

MavsThe Mavericks still can’t get a true center; I guess we’re going to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic again this season.  The Rangers face questions about pieces needed for a World Series run.  Then, there are the Cowboys; which we should not speak of in church.  I’ll join in on the chorus and say, “Jerry Jones, the owner should fire; Jerry Jones, the General Manager.”  Teams worry if they’re getting the best deal when acquiring and paying for players.  The little boy in me fantasizes about drafting, trading, managing the salary cap, arguing with the owner, and being criticized by everyone who thinks they know better because they sit in the stands.  All the fans want is fair chance when their team takes the playing field.

Investors worry if stocks are trading at a fair value.  Labor disputes happen when workers feel they are not getting a fair share.  Politicians know we vote our purses more than our principles; or our purses are can become our principles as we search for what is our fair share.  Even we who drop everything into the watery grave of Christian baptism are tempted to keep up with the Jones, preoccupied with getting a fair share.

This pursuit of fairness can dull our senses and prevent us from fully embracing the life God wants to give.  So, Jesus catches our attention with these words, “Make purses for yourselves that don’t wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.”  These ancient words are as relevant today as they were then. Giant Purse

Most of us haven’t made purses or wallets since in Indian Princesses or Guides.  But, we’re still making purses when our bank balances determine how secure we feel in this world.  We’re still making our purses when we allow our self worth to be determined by our net worth.  Jesus speaks of fashioning different kinds of purses; calling us to store up what is valuable in our hearts.  He says, “Where our treasure is, there your heart will be also.  This is the call to reach for the eternal.

Jesus never feels obliged to speak words that make us feel better about the way we’re living.  Madison Avenue does that better than any of us possibly could.  He simply speaks the truth to our heart, regardless how the words might make us feel.  The truth isn’t just helpful; its life changing.  The truth can be hard to hear; especially the way Jesus addresses our fearful attitudes, which fuel our addiction to things.  We can overcome this attitude and let go of our grip on things of this earth by learning to give it away.  This is the way to receive the pleasure of the Kingdom, God wants to give.

Let’s start where Jesus begins with our attitude.  “Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”  Jesus mixes his metaphors; speaking of sheep in kingdoms, but we get the idea.  At times, we can be fearful sheep in need of an attitude adjustment because we’re worried if there is enough grass on the other side of the hill.  Our distrust can cause us to sound like bleating sheep that see only finite resources.  This crooked point of view causes us to think our survival depends on what we can gather to feed our never ending appetites.

Scared sheepAn attitude focused only on the earthly pursuits creates levels of stress, causing us to do strange things we wouldn’t ordinarily do.  When a skunk is afraid, he sends out his stinky scent.  When a squid is threatened, the ink flows.  When a porcupine is worried, her quills get prickly.  When we’re backed into corner and afraid, we fight or fly.  An attitude of fear only sees what is before us; causing us to be addicted to things we think can secure us and get us through the moment. Faith sees beyond the moment.  It helps us when we’re stressed to let go of fear and reach for the eternal.

Some grew up in the Great Depression and you’re like my grandmother, it’s hard to throw things away.  My grandmother had a house full of things she thought she might need one day.  She had sheds with shelves from floor to ceiling; holding boxes marked with descriptions of what they contained.  Her illusive dream of security turned into a nightmare for my mom and her brother after she died.  Others of us, usually younger, can’t hold on to a thing.  We get the newest and best houses, cars, gadgets or clothes, no matter how much debt we incur.  We dupe ourselves into thinking our value is determined not by what we save, but by what we buy.  Both savers and buyers can be possessed by their possessions; breeding fearful attitudes.Shed

Let go of any semblance of a fear.  Don’t spend unnecessary energy propping up what we think is needed for our well being on earth.  Reach out in faith for the eternal; keeping hearts open to receive what our faithful God is eager to give.  It will always be more than we need.  An attitude of trust that God will provide what we absolutely need, even if we might not have all the things we want, begins by reaching for the eternal.

Let me illustrate what happens when we cast away fear and open up to eternal possibilities.  I need a student to come forward; I want to settle up with you.  Both of us will take out our one dollar bills in our pockets and lay it on the altar.  We will count and split it; making us even.  My volunteer thinks they got a good deal.  It wasn’t a fair trade, but it was a generous one; modeling what God does when we reach for the eternal in all we do.

God’s takes pleasure in giving what we need.  We experience that kind of giving when we are not afraid to empty our pockets.  Holding, conserving, measuring, judging, sorting, counting, consuming, taking, accumulating, protecting and worrying prevents us from being in position to be surprised by God’s gifts of joy.  The way to remedy our fearful attitudes is to open up our clenched fists, reach out to receive eternal gifts that won’t wear out, nor can thieves steal or moths destroy.  With our attitudes changed, let us examine some actions that reinforce our newly adopted trusting ways.

??????????Jesus says after casting aside fear; believing God provides; we’re to take certain actions: “Sell possessions, and give alms”.  Relax, Jesus didn’t say, “Sell ALL your possessions, and give alms.”  He did say sell possessions so we can give alms to friends and strangers, even if it means sacrificing.

This action isn’t as unusual as we might think; we do it all the time for our own sake, Jesus is asking us to do it for others.  We cash a bond or dip into our savings and that transaction helps us buy a car or piece of furniture for ourselves.  A changed attitude that reaches for the eternal makes us more willing to exchange something we have, not just for our own sake; but for sake of someone else who might need what we can give.

An attitude that keeps an eye on the eternal yields generous actions that returns spiritual dividends.  It is OK to feel a degree of satisfaction when we cash in for our own sake.  We can also know that same satisfaction, but in a spiritual sense, when we give what we have for the sake of others who have less.  If we don’t know that spiritual pleasure: either we’re not giving or we’re giving only to receive something back.  If we’re giving with the hope of being noticed or paid back, we’re going feel short-changed.  That’s self-centered charity not God-centered love and neighbor-directed caring.Give money

Our eternal God steps in when we step back from our small world attitudes that seeks to protect what we have; fearing we’ll not have enough.  We can overcome our lack of feeling secure by reaching for the eternal.  Eternity reaching people are marked with a spirit that willingly gives what they have to others.  They deeply sense they have received more than they can ever give.  Grounding our lives in eternal realities free us to extend generous actions others in the same way we’ve received from God.

We cannot figure out how all we have been blessed with has come to us.  We feel the unfairness of God’s grace and want to give out of the riches of graces we can name, but never could have imagined were possible.  All we know to do is to spend our lives reaching for greater eternal possibilities; knowing it is possible to receive wealth only God can give.  Go figure?

Go Figure

Published in: on July 14, 2013 at 10:01 pm  Leave a Comment  

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