As mentioned, this devotion is coming out a little late this week due to our Middle School mission trip to Seattle. If you are so inclined you can look at photos from this faith adventure at:
I appreciate your patience. Have a blessed weekend and may your time of worship be blessed as well.
13 Someone in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me." 14 But he said to him, "Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?" 15 And he said to them, "Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one's life does not consist in the abundance of possessions." 16 Then he told them a parable: "The land of a rich man produced abundantly. 17 And he thought to himself, "What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?' 18 Then he said, "I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.' 20 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?' 21 So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God."
What is the issue that you would want to appeal to Jesus? In our gospel text for this weekend we have the appeal for Jesus to act as arbitrator in a family dispute. Jesus rebuffs the request. What is something going on in your life that you would want God to enter and settle in your favor? Are there issues at your workplace or in your home? Are you involved in a dispute over property or money? Are you pulling more than your fair share while your sibling seems to skate by sitting at the feet of Jesus? Are you the one who faithfully stayed behind working the family farm while your sibling was sowing wild oats? Where has injustice been inflicted upon you that needs redress from the Lord?
The hard truth of this gospel text and of life in general is that God doesn’t devote much time or energy to entering into our disputes and settling them. When we seek justice we often find that we have been perpetrators of injustice or at least benefactors of grace well beyond our merit. God is busy reaching out to those who have little to none. Widows, orphans and aliens seem to take priority over those who have but are angling for more. Tax collectors and sinners and lepers and prostitutes seem to generate more interest than our pensions and our family squabbles over heirlooms and our ways of dictating how church ought to be. Jesus responds that life doesn’t consist in the abundance of possessions. Apparently Jesus doesn’t pay much heed to Madison Avenue and those who generate advertising campaigns.
Our culture tells us to work hard, save as we can and then to retire comfortably to relax, eat, drink and be merry. Madison Avenue would even invite us to eat, drink and be merry right now for tomorrow we might die (perhaps they have been reading Isaiah 22:13b). We are taught and encouraged and invited to look out for our own interests and comfort. We are called to store up treasures for ourselves.
Jesus offers a pointed parable about what might happen when we look out for ourselves but are not rich towards God. Rich towards God is a matter of not neglecting stewardship of our time, treasure and talent to the church and to the world. Rich towards God is a matter of feeding, clothing, visiting and caring for the needy (see Matthew 25:40). Rich towards God is a matter of seeing that other have enough to eat and drink. Rich towards God is spreading merriment to those on the fringes who might not have so many reasons to rejoice.
The sad and condemning truth of our world is that there are many resources to tend to the needs of the world but we covet and gather and steal them from one another. There isn’t so much an issue of amount of resources but rather resource allocation. God calls us to work hard and share the blessings with others. God calls us to sometimes take the unjust result and even multiply it (see Matthew 5:38-48) that we might bless our enemies. God calls us to a hard and different place. Jesus calls us to take up our cross.
God isn’t against having a good time or having food to eat and drink to drink. Jesus had the reputation of being a glutton and drunkard and of one who mingled with sinners and outcasts. God just wants us to include others especially those others wouldn’t. If you really want to catch a glimpse of what that might look at you might enjoy Tony Campolo's birthday party story.
God stir us to be people who throw birthday party’s for Agneses. Help us be less interested in getting our fair share and more interested in advocating for the poor and the neglected and the forgotten. Help us eat, drink and be merry with you and all of your beloved creation. Make us more like you. Amen.