Friday 12 August 2016

Bible Book:

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (vv. 19-21)

Matthew 6:19-21 Friday 12 August 2016

Psalm: Psalm 134


Jesus is clear, we must be very careful in our attitude tomaterial wealth, attentive to what we accumulate, value, and storeup as treasure. Jesus instructs us to locate our treasures inheaven. Heaven, the dwelling of God is referenced in Deuteronomy 28:12: "the Lord will open for youhis rich storehouse, the heavens".

This is surely one of the most difficult texts in Scripture.Warren Carter in his book Matthew and Empire (Trinity PressInternational, 2001) believes Matthew's Gospel presents a socialchallenge in offering a different vision and experience of humaninteraction and community. Instead of a hierarchical, exploitative,exclusionary community based on "their great ones being tyrantsover them, it creates an inclusive, merciful, egalitarian communitybased on practical, merciful, loving service to others".

A call to discipleship is a call to live differently as analternative community resisting the easy exploitation of others, tocelebrate the inclusion of all God's children. Any attempt tocritique wealth seems to be resisted by those who actually possessit. It is a curious fact of human nature that some of the mostgenerous people actually have very little. Christians and Christianchurches are often highly resistant to scrutiny of their bankbalances. The Methodist principle of connexionalism (mutuality,interdependence, accountability) ought to help us navigate ourgenerosity to our neighbours but it is not always easy to practice.Whilst we all know our material wealth will disappear, it remainsvery comforting to accumulate and justify its use largely forourselves and those closest to us. How do we reorientate ourselvesto the words: "store up for yourselves treasures in heaven"? Whatmight these treasures consist of?

The passage is offering a stark contrast encouraging us to thinkof all that money cannot buy peace, love, truth, gracefaithfulness, honesty and forgiveness. The words of Jesus recognisethat what you truly value will reveal the contents of yourtreasures and therefore the location of your heart. This call todiscipleship is not an easy path. It is worth remembering the wordsof Richard Rohr in Breathing under Water (SPCK, 2016): "God doesnot love us if we change, God loves us so that we can change".

To Ponder

  • If someone watched your life for a month:
    • What would they conclude were your priorities?
    • What would they learn about what you value?
    • What might you seek to change?
  • What is your treasure?
  • How generous are you with your material wealth?
  • If someone watched the life of the church you belong to for amonth:
    • What would they conclude were its priorities?
    • What would they learn about what the church values?
    • What might need to change?

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