Friday, March 31, 2023

Adore What You Store (Luke 12:13-21)

This is a moment when Luke puts us smack-dab in the middle of the crowd, listening and watching Jesus.  Jesus is telling the crowds in the previous verses that they are to avoid the hypocrisy of the Pharisees.  These are the role-models of the day on to how to walk and talk like a true child of Israel.  But Jesus says to not follow them; no longer would truth be hidden under the cloak of tyrannical religion--it will be shouted out, on the rooftops, by the people who are standing in the crowd, not just listening to but believing in Him.  

Then Jesus addresses their unspoken fears of going up against the spiritual leaders of the day. God is able to preserve their souls even if the leaders have them killed. They must not believe for a moment  that God has forgotten them if the heavy hand of the leaders strikes them--He knows even the number of the hairs on their heads.  If they fall, like a sparrow to the ground, God will know and be there through His Holy Spirit to comfort them and take them home.  

Jesus encourages them not to be afraid when they acknowledge Him publicly. He says that acknowledging Him before the world means that you are acknowledged in heaven.  Those who disown Him will likewise be disowned in heaven.  If people bash Jesus, that sin will be forgiven.  But those who blaspheme the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven--they have crossed a line from unbelief to a stone cold hardened heart that wants nothing to do with God and His Spirit.  

OK, Jesus. We get it, we think. You want us to put our faith in You and not allow the intimidation of the Pharisees to quash our baby faith in You. They are the ones who are in trouble if they continue to behave the way that they do, but even if they repent, You will forgive them as You are offering to do with us. You want the truth to be shouted out and if that cancels out our life in the community, You will come and comfort us. If it costs us our literal life, You will come and comfort us. You will also come in the time of our need, when we face our accusers, and put Your words in our mouths. Oh, hey, wait a minute. There's a guy making his way through the crowd, with a look on his face...

"Someone in the crowd said to him, 'Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me." 

"Jesus replied, 'Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?'

"Then he said to them, 'Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.'" (Luke 12:13-14)

OK, Jesus. This is a twist. How are we to get on in this world, where our security and place in the community will be threatened by our public stance for You? Shouldn't we stash some money away for our security? We might lose our jobs! Be exiled from our town! Hounded after and driven from place to place, all because we told the world that we follow You! Trusting Your Spirit to embolden us before the authorities is one thing, but we must eat and clothe our children!

"And he told them this parable: 'The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, "What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops."

“Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’

Hmmm. OK, Jesus. When You really want us to lean in, listen well and try to understand the deeper things of God, You go into parable-mode. So, the man who own the field is not an average guy who suddenly gets a windfall. He's already rich. He's already got means. He should be looking out for others, right, Jesus? Isn't that what You tell us, to be concerned with widows, orphans and those who struggle and have next to nothing? But, we getting the feeling, in light of that young man who wanted his brother to hand over some money to him, that this parable will not be a rubber stamp on our belief that money provides our security--it's our Father, right, Jesus? 

“But God said to him, ‘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 whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:20-21). 

OK, Jesus, we see a pattern here:  Rely on God in the midst of persecution; the hard times; and in the abundant times.  You will be in all of our circumstances, and we owe You gratitude, not a fearful or possessive attitude demonstrating a hardened heart. Wait!  Shhh!  He's telling His disciples something.  I'll bet they'll get nailed (pun intended) harder that we will!  Their worry and concern is even greater than ours!
"Then Jesus said to his disciples: 'Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?  Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?  

"Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.  

"Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.  Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.'" (Luke 12:22-34)

OK, Jesus, we think we get it:  Whatever we store, we adore.  

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