Disclaimer: Because the sermon below is what was prepared, but sat on the pulpit. The sermon that was delivered may vary from what is written below...

GOSPEL READING:  Luke 12:32-40

32. “Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33. Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

35. “Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; 36. be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks. 37. Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes; truly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them. 38. If he comes during the middle of the night, or near dawn, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves. 39. “But know this: if the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would have watched and would not have let his house be broken into. 40. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.”

Seremon for August 11, 2019 

 

A pastor by the name of Steve Molin had this to say about today’s reading:

If you have ever wondered why Jesus was so unpopular with the Jewish mainstream of his day, this is why. He turned upside-down the values that they held, and replaced them with radical ideas. The first shall be last, the slave shall be free, the poor shall be rich.

Twenty centuries later, we read what Jesus said and did, and we say “Right on, Jesus! You really gave it to those pious Jews. Good for you.” What we fail to realize is that the message of Jesus has not changed in 2000 years, except now he is speaking to us.

The plain truth is, all of Jesus’ teachings were radical. Not just for His time, but even now.  Think about it—who ever heard of, “If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to them the left cheek.” Or, “If someone would take your coat, give them your shirt as well.”  Or, my least favorite, “Give to everyone who asks?”

Is anyone in here not plagued by an endless onslaught of mail, email, robocalls, etc., by people asking for money.  We can’t possibly do what Jesus said. But His point is real, don’t be a hoarder; be willing to share, for “…where our treasure is, there our heart will also be.”

Last week we spoke on Jesus warning us not to store up treasure for ourselves without being rich toward God.  Jesus then counseled against worry, assuring the disciples of God’s love and care. Later He told them—and us—that, “No one knows the day or the hour (of His return)—not the Son of Man, nor the angels in heaven.” Things will play out the way they will, and, according to Jesus in another reading, when it gets so bad that there will be no life left, then it will be stopped. That’s not very comforting—and that it could be at any time.

One of the things I’ve come to understand over the years is that not all scriptures are meant for everyone. You have to take into consideration the time, who He is, why He was there, and who He was talking to. This was a special group gathered to take the Teachings of Jesus, teachings that were straight from the Father, into the world.  Those who He’s addressing cannot be weighed down by possessions and other hindrances. They have miles to walk, people to see, churches to build, baptisms to perform, etc.  Not everything was addressed to the general populace, but to those specifically given to Him by the Father.  It was them who heard Him say these things and wrote them down.

However, He is still talking to evangelists, missionaries, pastors and priests and His words to them are still germane to that same type of people today.  They were to be unencumbered so they had to trust Jesus in every way and in that way, can teach what they know to be true.

The church is not supposed to be about making money. It’s supposed to be about teaching people how to live so that when our initiation on this world is over, we fit right in on the other side.  If we think that it’s all about us—me, me, mine, mine—then we won’t fit in; we won’t make the cut. It’s actually that simple. Understand now why Jesus said, “blessed are the humble;” “blessed are the meek.” Again, having said that…

As a Jew, Jesus was from mid-Eastern stock. Even today the mid-East nations still utilize gross overstatement to make a point—hyperbole. That was their custom and Jesus used it. Because of that, much of what He said was emphatically overstated to drive home His point. This is seen in what He said about getting slapped on the cheek—I don’t know anyone who could turn the other cheek. Instead we would do one of two things—slap back, or run—depending on who we are and who hit us.

Today, in America and much of Europe, we are the wealthy and the proud—the equivalent of the Jewish mainstream of that day. Today, it is us who are comfortable in our religion, as were the old Jews. We are the ones separating ourselves from those who are sinners—as they did. What that means is anyone who is not one of us, is out. Today, we are the ones who believe that Jesus is “for us” and therefore “against them.” That’s the way the Jews believed. When we read the verses of scripture that say otherwise, we assume that the words are not for us and that Jesus didn’t really mean what he said. This is a dichotomy I’ve never really understood…how we can read the words and not know they are for us.

A judge by the name of Howard Albertson said it best when he said that Christians in this century "grind the words of Jesus to fit our circumstances." We're not really supposed to sell our possessions and give the money to the poor. We're not really supposed to visit the sick, the imprisoned and the poor. We're not really supposed to choose to be last in line as servant leaders?" and then he said, But what if we are? What if we are?

The truth is, we really are.

For the last sixteen years I’ve read the Gospels almost daily. What I’ve come to realize about His teachings is this: He was teaching us the manner in which our civilization is supposed to be set up—a civilization where there are no privileged people. A civilization where we’re all recognized as God’s children—equally and the same—even though we have radically different personalities.

When the creator Father looks down on us, He sees no difference in equality of the soul of a laborer compared to a doctor; no difference in equality of the soul of a janitor compared to a priest. No difference in the soul of a beggar and that of a king. What He sees is the amount love in the heart of each.  What He sees is not what we are, but who we really are.

But it’s easy to see that a civilization set up in accordance with the teachings of Jesus is never going to happen, so why did He bother? Why did He bother to go through all the agony He was made to suffer—especially since He knew in advance?

The answer is simple: He knew that some would get it; that some would understand. But everyone would be given the choice to follow His teachings, or not. Because He knew His teachings were out of step with the world is why He warned, “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. 14. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

When He told us this morning, “35. “Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; 36. be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks. 37. Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes; truly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them.

All He’s saying is live the life you’ve been taught by the scriptures you’ve read or heard. People who obey God’s call make a wonderful difference in this world. That’s what it means to be the Church; to give of ourselves, so that peoples’ lives are changed.

Amen.