Monday, September 19, 2016

Childern of Light in a Complex World!

It is my belief that Sunday school is not just for children.
All of us who are serious about wanting to know God through Jesus Christ have to continue to learn.
The best case I can make for this is our Gospel reading for this morning.
It is a difficult parable to understand.
What is Jesus talking about?
Are we to be dishonest as long as it suits our needs?
In case you are confused about what this particular story of Jesus means don’t worry.
So are people who have given their lives to studying the Bible.
As I read different commentaries about the Gospel this morning one thing became clear.
Everyone is a little unclear about what Jesus meant to say.
Even the explanations for what the parable means are somewhat hard to untangle.
And I realized that if I gave a sermon trying to untangle them it would be boring, and maybe leave us all a little more confused.

If we look at the parable from a broader perspective what we see is that Jesus is trying to teach us about what it means to live in this world.
It would be nice to believe that every decision we make is simple.
We are given two possible choices between the good and bad.
And all we have to do is choose the good.
Life is messier than this.
It is not as clear cut.
The choices that we make on a daily basis are tied with complications.
And if we are going to be the Children of the light then we have to be really shrewd and clever in how we make those decisions.
We have to be as shrewd and clever as people of the world.

This weekend while we were running Reach the Beach (A 200 mile relay that raised money for Camp Calumet) we had these Thrivent t-shirts to give away.
We met these people who were from Chicago running the relay and we offered them t-shirts.
The Thrivent t-shirts say, “Live generously”.
When one of the women in the group saw what the t-shirt said, she said, “I really do try.”

We might think that living a generous life is natural.
It isn’t.
But like this women we actually do have to try.
What I have learned in my life is that In order to be a generous person you have to work at it.
You have to plan for it.
You have to be shrewd about how you use the money God gave you.
It is not something that just automatically happens life as a child of light demands of us that we use our minds to think through how best to navigate a complex world.

Life in this real world is messy, because life in this real world is sinful.
This side of heaven none of us gets off sin free.
We all have to make deals in order to do the kingdoms work.
This is what makes it so complicated

In Washington DC there is a church called Luther place.
It is a great church.
They have as part of their ministry a full homeless shelter.
This started because in one of the coldest winters the pastor decided to open the doors and let the homeless sleep inside the church.
Because if he didn’t people would have died.
Eventually they came around to building this complex with all sorts of services for people experiencing homelessness.
The pastor who started this told me that in order to build his homeless shelter he had to raise lots of money.
And he had to take money from companies that he believed were not doing what was ethical in their business practices, companies that he once had protested against for their unethical behavior.
The pastor told me, “I would take money from Satan if I knew I could do the kingdoms work with it.”
It would be nice to think that we could have an absolute right and wrong thing to say about everything, but life is more complex.

When I was in youth group as a kid we used to have youth group at our youth leaders house on Sunday morning.
We would eat breakfast and talk about issues.
One Sunday he wanted our advice.
He was working for a company that made something for the military.
He wanted to know if he could do this as a Christian.
Could he ethically support war?
We had a really good talk, and at the end we came to the conclusion that he could.
One, he could because it was job that fed his family and his job helped protect people.
Two, God’s grace allows for us to engage in the world that is messy and sometimes involved war.
It would be nice to think that we could have an absolute right and wrong thing to say about everything, but life is more complex.

I was reading an article from a mother who was talking about how hard September is.
How busy it is.
Because the kids are back at school and this means, new forms to fill out, homework to be done, back to school nights to attend, sports schedules to be kept, supplies to be purchased, and the hectic schedule of life.
Articles like this keep popping up, and it just makes me think about how busy we all are most of the time.
We are running like crazy.
And we don’t have enough energy for what really matters.
We are not shrewd enough in our lives to figure out how to make time for spiritual things.
How do we make time for prayer, worship, and Christian fellowship?

We are spending our time and money on things that don’t satisfy.
And then we wonder why our lives are out of whack.
We wonder why we are so tired and hurried.
Jesus tells us that piece of mind comes with being shred and clever.
It means making choices that are hard.
It means saying “no”.

This is why Sunday school is never ending.
Because all of our lives we will come across situations that demand us to be shrewd and clever.
We will have to use the best of our spiritual selves to make difficult dissensions.

My Youth Group leader lived with himself knowing that he did what he did because he loved his family, and he knew a gracious and loving God who understood the complex nature of life.
The pastor from Washington DC lived with himself knowing that he was serving a forgotten and marginalized population, and he knew a gracious and loving God who understood the complex nature of life.
We all live with ourselves knowing that life is complex and depends on shrewdness that is how we get by each and every day.
It helps to know deeply and intimately God as revealed to us in Jesus Christ.
Because then we know that those difficult decisions are backed up by a gracious and loving God who understands the complex nature of life.

This morning’s Gospel is complex and a little confusing.
That is the point.
It is this way because Jesus knew our complex lives, and Jesus tries to help us live in God’s grace every day.
Jesus wants to help us be shrewd and clever as we navigate life.
May your September be made a little bit easier because you have knowledge of God’s gracious and loving nature.
May you be more loving and gracious to yourself as you try to figure out how to live as a child of the light in a complex world.

No comments:

Post a Comment