How To Get Six Pack For 14 Year Old Boy The Rich Idiot (A Sermon on Luke 12:13-21)

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The Rich Idiot (A Sermon on Luke 12:13-21)

Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to share the family inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Friend, who appointed me to be judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them: “Beware! Beware of every kind of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” Then he told them a parable: “The rich man’s land yielded abundantly. And he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ Then he said: ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul: ‘Sweetheart, you have many goods stored up for many years, relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him: ‘Fool! This night your life is demanded of you. And the things you prepared, whose will they be?’ It is the same with those who gather treasure for themselves, but are not rich according to God.” (Luke 12:13-21)

“Jesus is the answer!”

When I first became an active Christian in the early 80s, it was a popular cry among my peers. I must have had a shirt with ‘Jesus is the answer’ stamped on it. Indeed, the slogan became so popular that some others came out with a counter slogan, with T-shirts, with signs, “what was the question?”

People’s pious reaction to that counter slogan was, of course “Jesus is the answer to all your questions”, but, of course, that’s simply not true. I had a stand-up comedian convince me to do this one night as part of his routine. As he said, if Jesus were answer to each question, imagine how boring games would become:

“Second round, hands on the buzzers. The first question is…

Bzzzz… Jesus?

It’s true. Next question

Bzzzz… Jesus?”

Jesus is no the answer to all our questions, as illustrated in today’s Gospel reading:

“Master, tell my brother to share the family heirloom with me.” (Luke 12:13) ‘talk into your hand’, says Jesus. ‘Ask someone who cares!’

OFFICE. That’s not exactly what He said, but that’s pretty much the gist of it.

“Who made me judge or arbiter over you?” (Luke 12:14) is the exact answer, but it boils down to the same thing. Jesus is radically disinterested in helping this man solve his problem, which is not what we are used to.

What I see was not a trick question. Indeed, it may have been exactly the kind of question you would ask your local rabbi and expect him to answer. This was a family issue, it was an issue of justice and, yes, it was an issue of money, and I know money is not the most important thing in the world, but, as Zig Ziglar said, “Money is not everything, but it is on a par with oxygen”

When I was young, I never worried about money. I guess most of us were like that. Why is it that when we don’t have money, we don’t seem to care much about it? We get old and get credit cards and mortgages and some of us get stock portfolios and then hire accountants and brokers to keep us out of trouble,

I’m ashamed to admit that in recent years I’ve spent many hours lying awake at night worrying about money. I thought so other people and that I was too spiritual for any of that. Having been close to bankruptcy on too many occasions now, I admit that I am too.

Why was I so carefree when I had nothing, yet so anxious when I had relatively much? The answer is straightforward enough (in my case, anyway). When I was young, I always knew my dad had my back. He’s not there now.

I think this is why most of us worry about money. I think it’s just fear.

I appreciate that for some people money is a matter of power. It is about personal and social significance. It’s about being a someone and stands out from the pack.

When we look at some of these business people who are making enormous salaries, and companies that are making squillions of dollars in profits, but they just seem to want more and more, it’s not about security, is it? It is something more pathological – the desire for power, the desire to be like God, perhaps?

It’s not us, is it? At least not most of us, most of the time, or is there a fine line between wanting security for the future and wanting to replace God?

“Beware! Beware of all kinds of covetousness; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” (Luke 12:15)

GK Chesterton said “Now we could have a pretty good debate about whether or not Jesus believed in fairies. That would be a matter about which we could have endless speculative debates. However, there is no debate about whether or not Jesus believed that rich people were in great trouble. The evidence in Scripture is simply too great, there are too many stories. Jesus said too much on the subject.”

It’s true, even though we don’t like to admit it. Even the most fundamentalist preachers who insist that we take everything literally when it comes to Scripture somehow fail to take Jesus’ commandments about money literally.

“Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide for yourselves purses that will not wear out.” (Luke 12:33) Jesus didn’t mean that literally, of course, did he, if he meant literally, he obviously wasn’t talking to me.

The land of the rich is abundant. He thought to himself: ‘What shall I do, since I have nowhere to store my crops?’… ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there will I store all my grain? and my goods. And I will say to my soul: ‘Sweetheart, you have plenty of goods stored up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him: ‘Fool! This night your life is demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be? (Luke 12:16-20)

Death is such a sobering reality. It helps us put things into perspective. Really, what amazes me, having done hundreds of funerals now, is not how people find clarity at funerals and suddenly see life in perspective, but how quickly they forget after the funeral and manage to get right back on the treadmill. !

Let me conclude by telling you one of my own funeral stories – a simple funeral I conducted in Dulwich Hill that has always stayed with me.

I can’t remember the name of the deceased now, but I remember that she was one of the greatest circus performers in this country. She was a trapeze artist whose performance was the highlight of every performance in the big top of one of Australia’s great circuses.

And I spent time with this wonderful woman’s son both before and after the funeral, and he told me how, as a boy, he never got to watch his mom perform. Indeed, he said that she would always end her routine with a particularly dangerous maneuver (a triple somersault with a double twist, or something), and that she would always perform this stunt ‘old school’ (without safety net)!

The son said that at that moment he would always stand in front of the tent and listen to the crowd. When he heard the drum beat and the crowd gasp, that’s when his mom jumped and he would hold his breath. When (an eternity later) he heard the crowd erupt into rapturous applause, he knew his mom was okay.

She only missed the jump once, he told me. She survived, but after that she never returned to the trapeze.

In any case, the thing that stuck with me most from the funeral of this great woman was that her amazing life on the trapeze was barely mentioned in the family memories during the funeral itself! It was as if the children barely remembered her incredible athletic achievements. All they could remember was what a wonderful mom she was!

That tells me everything! When we reach the end of our lives, all the things that haunt us the most today – nobody will remember any of them! That may not be entirely true, but for the most part, the things we sweat and toil about today, along with all the professional accomplishments we’ve accomplished and the records we’ve set and the degrees we’ve earned—they may get a footnote in our eulogy, but I think my friends and family won’t really care about any of those things, let alone my net worth (if I have any).

Be sure we all have the same net worth when we’re dead. I don’t know the real value, but dead bodies aren’t worth much.

We worry so much about things that really don’t matter, and the flip side of that is that we don’t have the resources—financial or emotional—to devote to the things that really matter. The trick for me, I know, is simply to keep reminding myself of what I knew when I was young – that my dad has my back, because our Heavenly Father really does have our back.

Seek first the Kingdom of God, and everything else will fall into place.

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