GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, WHO GIVES TO US THE RICHES OF THE UNIVERSE AND BEYOND!
TEXT: Luke 12: 13-21
Dearly Beloved By Christ:
Some of my ancient relatives fought in the Crusades. So did a few of yours. America’s founding fathers agreed to die rather than submit their liberty to the tyrannical English crown. Abraham Lincoln waged war in order to “Protect and preserve the Union.” Massachusetts Yankees died in that war to abolish slavery. And after Pearl Harbor, our fathers and grandfathers lined up in droves to fight the Axis powers because they truly believed in freedom. These folks all stood for something more than money. They were willing to risk their lives for something more than money.
Some of you have relatives in Europe. I don’t know what they think about the appalling ISIS war that is currently being waged against them. But I do know Europe as a whole has been losing that war for quite some time. Why? Our NATO allies in Europe have professional armies, fighters and bombers, tanks, ships, and even nuclear weapons. On paper, they cannot be defeated by a rag-tag group of fanatics armed with a few knives, guns, and home-made bombs. And yet, they are losing. Why? Why do they seem so powerless against such a demonic foe? The answer is: If you give up on God and don’t have Godly principles to live and die by, you have nothing. Europe gave up on God a long time ago. Today all they have is Western wealth and the do-dads that go with it. Money doesn’t give people a backbone, but noble principles do. Europe today is a living example of the old adage: “If you don’t stand for something, you stand for nothing.” And money, the modern god, is actually nothing because you can never take it with you.
Make no mistake, money is what makes our world go round—at least on a superficial level. But, does it inspire hearts to willingly die in order to attain it? Does it make our conscience clean? Should it define our lives? Is it what we want to be remembered for 100 years from now when we lay in our graves?
I recall a conversation I had with another about 40 years ago. It was about money, specifically, the American dollar. I reminded that person that money is nothing more than a promise. A promise from a government to you. A promise that is only as good as the people making it. Do human governments ever renege on their promises? You know the answer. So, why do people “believe in money” but disbelieve in God Almighty, Who has kept every promise He’s ever made and proved it by promising and then delivering His own Son to death on a cross in order to save us? America, who or what is your God today?—The Trinity or money?
Of course, money buys us emotional “highs” and makes our physical lives externally easier. In this, money is a siren’s song which breeds complacency. In our lesson a rich young man heeded that siren’s song of an easy life. So, he asks Christ to intercede on his behalf and cut through the red tape of having an inheritance with his brother finalized. Basically, he was greedy. “I want mine and I want it now!” Christ addresses that greediness this way: “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” The soldiers at Valley Forge knew that. The Union army knew that at Gettysburg when Pickett’s charge came at them. My best friend’s uncle Beryl knew that when he fought in the Battle of the Bulge.
Jesus goes on to tell a parable to make His point. Money, in that day, was defined by food stocks. If you had a lot of food, you were rich. Remember, it was an agrarian society. Today, wealth is defined by stock portfolios, art collections, real estate, or possessing the newest technology. In this parable, the man has so much new grain from the harvest that he’s worried what to do with it. (Note: giving it away to feed hungry souls never enters his mind, which reveals his greed.) Instead, he decides to build new barns to store it, after tearing down the old ones! And then, fat and happy, he decides to take his leisure and wile- away the rest of his life doing nothing! “Take life easy; eat, drink, and be merry.”
ISIS and its allies are winning in Europe today because that same attitude permeates modern Western culture. If life is only about acquiring wealth, if it is all about money, then once you have a bit of it, what else is there? You basically become your own idol—driven by greed. But God says: “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself? This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.”
Right now, Europe is bankrupt toward God. That’s why evil is winning. The cathedrals are empty. God is passe to the masses. And I fear America is being lured into the same complacency by relying upon money and technology to provide us with a purpose, with a backbone, instead of relying upon God.
Whatever happened to the wisdom of Solomon: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.”? Whatever happened to: “We walk by faith and not by sight” (or the money on our bank statement.? Whatever happened to: “Godliness with contentment is great gain; for we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out; so having food and clothing, let us be content with that.”?
Christ’s point here is that loving money more than God, trusting in money more than God’s promises, and having money define the worth of your life instead of having God’s grace define it—all that is a fool’s errand.
Christ’s earthly life was defined by what He did with it. He laid down His life to save our souls. I like to think, in fact I know, that my life is defined by who I can touch with God’s grace thus creating a new saint for heaven. It’s defined by standing up for Godly principles: right vs. wrong; good vs. evil; or as Paul says so well: “Whatever is true, whatever is right, whatever is noble, whatever is pure, whatever is praiseworthy—think about such things and the God of peace will be with you.” So, don’t worry so much about being rich in money—be rich in the Lord and His mercy and grace. Amen