Thursday, March 17, 2011

Luke 16: God and Money

One of the cool things about being an overweight guy is that you get to hang around the locker room of a health club and listen to Rich Successful Guys and RSG wannabees talk shop and do deals. A few days ago one guy exclaimed to another sotto voce, "that guy who just left is worth half a billion dollars!"

And I thought, "what an awful way to measure a person's worth." Jesus said elsewhere, "a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." Is there any price I wouldn't pay to save the life of my  child? So the Father values me. The good news about this story is that the man in question is also rich towards God, as best as I can tell. The same cannot be said of the two main characters in Luke 16, the Fired Manager and the Rich Man in Hell. These two guys are entirely self-absorbed. All they care about is making money to serve themselves and no-one else. Their master - the one they adore and labor for - is money. And like Jesus said, "you cannot serve God and money". Viewed this way, Americans shouldn't feel smug when they see the golden idols and false gods of the third-world "pagans". A graven image is just a graven image, be it on a totem pole or a dollar bill, until I bow down to it. Then it is my god.

There is a saying, "don't love money, it doesn't love you back." Jesus could have added, "and it won't  die on the cross for you and rescue you from judgement." The Rich Man learned that lesson but too late. What could he have done differently? Repented of his greed. Thanked God for his wealth. Shared it with disgusting-looking street people.

Yesterday I drove past a homeless person begging change on Shelburne Road. He was smoking a cigarette. Deeply perceptive and sensitive spiritual person that I am, I thought, "how dare he beg when he has money for smokes." And then in a blinding flash of revelation I thought, "hmmm, I wonder if Jesus would have said that....." And eventually I decided someone professing to want to be like Jesus might instead pray for this person and have a stash of non-perishable, easy-to-open food (granola bars maybe) to hand to him through the window.

For starters, anyway. Which reminds me - the Burlington Emergency Shelter annual dinner is coming up and I have to find some people who want to attend. Hmmm......I wonder how I should ask them?

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