September 29, 2019 / Pastor Tim Dean
The question for us today is this: “How does our faith in Jesus lead us to rearrange our relationship with money?” Jesus says that we cannot serve two masters – we cannot love God and love wealth at the same time. This means we cannot put our trust in, cannot love and serve two powers. We cannot divide our allegiance between God and wealth.
Jesus responds to the criticism by telling the story of a rich man and a poor man named Lazarus.
As we strive to follow Jesus, the story is all about rearranging relationships
The rich man lives extravagantly, yet ignores or doesn’t notice the poor man at his doorstep. In the afterlife, the roles are reversed. The poor man, Lazarus, is carried by the angels to be with Abraham, while the rich man suffers in agony. This is a striking and challenging story for us. It’s a struggle for me – and maybe for you – to identify with either the rich man or Lazarus. Most of us are probably not in either boat.
But when we look at it in the context of rearranging our lives and priorities based on which god we serve – God or wealth – maybe we can see connections.
The rich man’s problem is not that he has wealth. The problem lies in his ultimate allegiance – what are his priorities? What takes most of his energy and emotional investment? What is he doing with his money?
In this case, the rich man’s wealth is an obstacle that prevents him from noticing and caring for Lazarus, who is literally right before his doorstep. Again, the struggle for us is not money in and of itself, but our relationship, attitude, and actions, toward money.
Is money an obstacle that keeps us from loving and serving God and neighbor?
Jesus’ story prompts some soul-searching for all of us about our priorities and relationships with all kinds of things, including money. But this should not leave us wallowing in guilt and anxiety. Money is not evil, possessions are not evil, but it is the love of money that Jesus is talking about.
Yet today Jesus helps us to see money as a gift, as daily bread, from God to be used and invested and shared for the benefit of others. Readiness to share what we have been given is living the life that God intends.
Using our money generously and wisely is the way we can follow Jesus in our daily lives. Jesus calls us to use our resources – not as a chasm to keep others out – but as a bridge to support one another as human beings loved equally by God.
This is loving God and loving neighbor – rearranging our relationships in light of Christ’s resurrection
But the critical point of Jesus’ story is that we see our lives and relationships anew in the promise of the resurrection. Because of God’s new life flowing from the tomb, our material resources become opportunities to invest and share the life that really is life—God’s abundant life for all.
Yes, there are great gaps in our cities, states, and nations; there are many chasms that divide rich and poor. Yet it is the One who died and rose who makes a new homeland for all. His body, broken on the cross, is the bridge that crosses over the chasms of sin and death and joins us together as beloved children of God.
May we see a new vision of God’s love, rearrange our relationships and priorities based on this love, and share the abundant life we have been given so that all may truly live.