Pentecost 11C - Luke 12:13-21

Luke 12:13–21(NIV) page 711 in the pew Bible

13 Someone in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”

14 Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” 15 Then He said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”

16 And He told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’

18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” ’

20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”

R.U.D.U.I.?

          Are you drowning under influences?

          Are you weighed down by the burden of living? The bills that seem to arrive by snail mail or e-mail. The investment property which needs constant maintenance? The hire purchase, house or car loan repayments?

          No doubt we all have loads of different weights to bear. For some:

                   - school assignments

                   - care of a sick, incapacitated or elderly relative

                   - credit card debts or other loan repayments

                   - new technology – the smart phone, blue ray player, …

                   - finding new clothes that fit properly

                   - what to have for dinner tonight.

          The combined influences and pressures we’re all under are often great and can be quite overwhelming as we strive to provide for our wellbeing in the future. Insurance and Kiwi-Saver to budget and plan for - tax to claim back or to pay. It’s all part of our journey to financial security

          Back in 2012, Fortune magazine report on their website that the Nike shoe company had a total marketing budget of $2.4 billion for the preceding year to convince the world we should all wear Nike shoes. How can we not succumb to such advertising pressure?

          On your TV screen you’ll see everything, and, more than you’ve ever wanted. A new car, a holiday on the Gold Coast, a new chicken meal, outstanding investment opportunities, to name but a few of the things, we’re told we can’t live with out.

          They’re all ours for a few seconds – the images you see belong to you for a moment, then they’re gone. They fade as does the idea of them when you consider your budget.

       Jesus told a story about a man once who was caught up in the images.

16 And He told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’

18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” ’

20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”

          The TV, the magazines, the internet, and sales catalogues create images of reality for us and promise them to us. Those images may be interesting and useful but unless they’re subject to a relationship with God they’re meaningless.

Images must be left behind – like photos that fade, they will eventually be discarded. It’s like the lotto win or wealth that is inherited – it is soon spent.

          We have fleeting images of life, wealth and enjoyment – but they pass – we die – and perhaps we’re left with nothing – like the rich fool in the story.

          It’s been said that, “God is about relationships, not about things.” Did you notice that in Jesus’ parable of the rich fool the fool didn’t have any relationships. He was only concerned with himself – he referred only to “himself” and what “he” had decided to do. In the space of three verses he spoke of “himself” 12 times.

          He must have been a very lonely man. In his loneliness he was confronted by God with the most important question of his life – at his death when God asks: “Why should I let you into heaven?”

          The man died and the only answer he could give was, “I worked hard. I built an empire. I had wealth. See my investments, my share portfolio and my disposable cash?”

          How will you answer this question when you die and stand in the presence of the Lord? What will you say to God when He asks you, “Why should I let you into heaven?

          Would you say, “I had all this wealth which I left to: my children, my relatives, my cat or the Salvo’s just now when I died.”

          Or will you be able to say, “Your Son Jesus had a relationship with me. He loved me so much that He died and rose for me so we could be mates. He saw me through the tough times. And because we know each other I had other mates. He saw us through all those meaningless images so we could value each other.

          R.U.D.U.I.?

          Are you drowning under the influences? If so, I encourage you to remember your Baptism because as St Paul writes in Colossians 3:1-4 ESV If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.

          Wow! What hope! This is good news because we can experience and participate in God’s glory now, with Jesus and each other.

          So let’s not get so wrapped up in building barns, but instead, let’s take time to listen to God, respond to Him and share our dialogue with each other. Let’s take seriously these three questions:

  1. What are you doing to grow disciples?

2.  What are you doing to reach out into your community?

3.  What are your dreams for your faith community?

          So, Mums’ and Dad’s, grandparents and God-parents sit with your children – this is the first place to grow disciples. Youth, talk to the young bloke or girl standing on the edge of your group – even the odd one out is a member of the community. Do you even know who the people on the edge are?

          Eat drink and be merry, yes, but don’t do it alone. Invite your neighbour to join you. Make some soup and invite the people you wave to, but whose names you don’t know to share it with you. Share a cup of tea with someone who’s thirsty for company. These things are being rich in God’s sight.

          See how they love one another? This is my dream for our faith community – not only loving the members of the congregation but those on the fringe and beyond so that they too desire to be part of the congregation and ultimately God’s kingdom.

          Listen, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith that they may inherit the kingdom God promises to those whom He loves?

          Amen.