Sunday 07 August 2022

Bible Book:

'Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 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. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.' (vs 32-34)

Luke 12:32-40 Sunday 7 August 2022

Psalm 33:12-22


Context is everything. That was the mantra when I was teaching some years ago.

There is a story of John Wesley sitting with a beggar for a day. He gave what he gained to the beggar who was supporting his wife and children at a time when there were no welfare benefits. It is a practical example of justice in action. We cannot preach poverty to those who are poor. If we sit with them we might understand better and love them more.

Then reading randomly I come across this passage. If the cap fits – context again – wear it. It says: 'sell your possessions'; ‘do not be afraid’. I cannot speak for you, but this is the cap that I must wear. I love technology. I am fascinated by new advances. I enjoy setting up a new device and seeing what it will do; I'm a bit of a geek. And I can so easily become blind to my own hypocrisy.

For those who have, giving up possessions is difficult. Not having much is a reality for the poor. So this passage is for me; it's not for you if you are poor. I am the one who needs to sit with the beggar. And, it seems, that need not make me afraid, for Jesus says "It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom." (v. 32)  ‘Kingdom’? That's a strange image. But think of it this way as a context – that word again – in which we all have what we need, food, shelter, clothing… It begins to sound like human rights. And it is. Jesus did not preach a prosperity gospel.

The trouble is that nature is ‘red in tooth and claw’. Biologically, we seek our own preservation, we want to hang on to what we've got. Yet Jesus imagines us sharing, not grasping. What is there to fear? But I’ve become too dependent on what I have. I hold possessions close. It's so easy to justify ourselves with a false gospel where the good are blessed with prosperity. To let go is risky; it demands a change so great it is a change of being. It takes a step of faith, a complete change of perspective. A new life? Born over again? Can we embrace it? Will I?


To Ponder:

  •  Where is your heart? What do you value most?
  • What do you think the Methodist Church values most?
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