Have you ever heard the saying, “The one who has the most toys when he dies, wins”? Or what about the saying “The difference between men and boys is the price of their toys”? Or did you ever hear about the woman from Beverly Hills died, was buried in her favour car and if a family member did as she asked he would get 2 million for following her wishes? No?...
Now, you might wonder why I bring this up... Easy. This is the way the world thinks. It is about trying to fill the void that so many of us feel when we seek to be independent, wealthy, famous and so on. It is not that any of these things are wrong in and of themselves, but stop and ask yourself a simple question: “What is missing from their lives that the need these things even in death?”
The young, rich ruler came to Jesus with a simple question, “Good Teacher, what (more) must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Mark 10:17-31) How did Jesus respond to that question? “Why do you call me good? No one is good - except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honour your father and mother.”
“All these I have kept since I was a boy,” declared the man. And Jesus looked at him, really looked at him and then he loved him. “One one thing you lack then, go and sell what you have and give to the poor, then come and follow me.” The man went away sad because he was a man of considerable wealth.
First, let me say to you that I have gone right back to the original language, and there is nothing in the Greek that says that the man has to destitute himself and his family to give to others. He is expected to sell everything but then out of the sale give generously to people who cannot bless him and who have nothing to give him in return (so he thinks). It is not so much that the man loves his money as it is that the man loves whatever else he gets that his money can give him. Power, prestige, position and so on. Thus he thinks that he is asked to give up on what everyone around him says is his good fortune and God’s blessing.
Second, it is not enough just to not do the don’ts, we need to do some of the dos. We are called to love our neighbours, to do God’s work; to do good to those who hate us and persecute us. We are called to rid ourselves of our agendas and the false sense of safety and satisfaction that we have done all that needs to be done. We have not done everything that needs to be done nor have we fulfilled everything that needs to be done in preparation for the coming of the kingdom and the true Jerusalem. In being a believer, it is necessary to not only keep ourselves pure, but to make sure that we are fulfilling whatever it is that God has given us to.
Third, please stop and consider what used to be a blessing in your life and in our life as a congregation. What still is a blessing and what is perhaps now a curse? Blessing is not a sign that one is finished and that we can sit idlely by but rather an opportunity to do more ministry, and to build up things further. Being blessed is a moment to go and to be a blessing.
Last, I will ask you to consider the words we used to hear at funerals “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away; bless be the name of the Lord” I would take this to mean that there is a lot of give and take in a relationship with God. Everything that we have and everything that we are comes from and returns to God. Does this mean he wants my Dodge? Not exactly. He wants the use of it to make ministry happen and so he finds ways to provide it to me so that my family can have an impact on this city and this diocese for the sake of the Gospel and the coming kingdom. And if God wants this from and for me, what about you? How have you been blessed? How will you use the grace, the gifts, the talents that are within you? Or will you turn and walk away? It is your choice and it is time to walk or to walk away. You get to decide. I invite you to come with us.