BIBLE READING:    Luke 12:32-48

SERMON (A short Reflection)

Jesus begins with the comforting word: “Do not be afraid!” The other times Jesus has told us not to be afraid in the middle of a raging storm, in the dark of night, and when he confronts us like a ghost after resurrection. Here, however, our fear is connected to our “possessions,” our “purses” and “treasure.” Then he adds a command: “Sell your possessions and give to the poor.”

Last week We heard about how Jesus warned about Greed and how destructive that is. Now he turns from the the motive of greed to the experience of fear. Both greed and fear are experiences we have when it comes to our possessions.

Greed is easy to understand and respond to. We as Christians work at overcoming this impulse (generally quite successfully). But fear is a different matter. Our main motivation for holding onto our possessions (our wealth – our things) is fear. It is as if today, in his teachings on wealth, Jesus has at last gotten to the heart of the matter.

Because I am just a few years away from retirement, I keep a close eye on my super fund.. I’ve heard horror stories of people who live longer than their means of support, and I fear poverty and dependency in old age. As Jesus says, my accumulation of treasure is revealing my ultimate concerns and commitments, and my greatest fears. I fear want and dependency more than I fear God.

The judgements of the market mean more to me than the judgements of a righteous God. So Jesus’ concluding warning about God coming upon us unexpectedly holds little fear for me. In a way, my possessions are a means, even if an unconscious means, of securing my life against the nocturnal incursions of a God who threatens to rip off everything I’ve got.

God a thief? It’s not one of the most flattering images of God that is presented in the Gospels. Don’t be afraid of poverty and dependency and downturns in the market, Jesus seems to say here. If you want to be afraid, be afraid of God! God is the one who shows up just when least expected (or even desired), in the middle of the night, breaks in and rips off everything that you thought was secure.

Be prepared. Start making really prudent investments, not as the world makes investments, but those that are made out of belief in a sovereign and righteous God.

Acknowledgement William Willamon