14 October 2018 – Where do we place our trust?

14 October 2018 – Where do we place our trust?

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What does it mean to be rich? (Today)

Q&A:

  • How much does a household need to earn, annually to be rich?
  • How much does a household need to have, cash, property, investments, to be rich?

Are we rich? (Compared to whom?)

  • Check Global Rich List…

The reason I started with this is that I think that sometimes it can be easy to read stories where the Bible talks about rich people and tell ourselves that this doesn’t apply to us… By global standards or in comparison people in Jesus day, we are all very very rich… Some are certainly richer than others, but we live in a very wealthy nation and we all benefit from that… The water works, the toilets work, the power works, healthcare and education are free and we tend not to worry about our family staving to death or about any of these other things… We are rich…

What do we own… What owns us?

What did it mean to be rich (In Jesus’ Day)

Before we look at the passage, it is worth having a look at what it meant to be rich in Jesus day…

Just like when we were talking about what was at stake with things like divorce in Jesus’ time, we need to remember that Jesus lived in a time when life was very hard. There was no social safety net and people routinely died due to not having enough food, shelter, etc. Today in Australia, people don’t need to starve to death or die from getting a cold… Having a bit of wealth meant that you didn’t have to worry as much about these things… You were more in control of your own destiny that someone whose entire life and family could be turned upside by a single season of bad farming production… Just like today, if you had enough money, you could spend you way out of many problems and challenges.

It is also important to keep in mind that in Jesus time, there was a general sense that having wealth was a sign of God’s blessing and that being poor, sick, etc, was a sign that God wasn’t happy with you… While poor people may have been envious of those who are wealthy, they still believed that people basically deserved their lot in life… Not that different from how people talk about Karma today…

Looking at the passage

So last week we looked at the way that Jesus’ talking about divorce would have shocked his hearers, today we look at something that would have been even more shocking…

This was an important story as it appears in 3 of the 4 gospels…

Mark 10:17–20 GNB

17 As Jesus was starting on his way again, a man ran up, knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to receive eternal life?”

18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked him. “No one is good except God alone.

19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit murder; do not commit adultery; do not steal; do not accuse anyone falsely; do not cheat; respect your father and your mother.’ ”

20 “Teacher,” the man said, “ever since I was young, I have obeyed all these commandments.”

This guy is off to a good start… He has made a habit of doing all the things a good Jewish person should do… For most of us, if we can get through life avoiding the stuff he is talking about, we are doing pretty well…

Mark 10:21 GNB

21 Jesus looked straight at him with love and said, “You need only one thing. Go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven; then come and follow me.”

“Jesus , looking at him, loved him…”

This isn’t some Marxist lesson in class warfare and the inherent evil in those who are wealthy… Jesus sees past all this man has, all he has achieved and sees him for who is is… A beloved child of God… Jesus looked in love and saw someone who was possessed by what he had accumulated…

Mark 10:22–23 GNB

22 When the man heard this, gloom spread over his face, and he went away sad, because he was very rich.

23 Jesus looked round at his disciples and said to them, “How hard it will be for rich people to enter the Kingdom of God!”

Jesus says outrageous things…

Jesus is asking this man to give up everything that would have defined him, wealth, status, recognition and security… He is being asked to give up everything he had placed his trust in… This isn’t easy…

Mark 10:24–25 GNB

24 The disciples were shocked at these words, but Jesus went on to say, “My children, how hard it is to enter the Kingdom of God!

25 It is much harder for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle.”

This “eye of the needle” stuff isn’t talking about some small gate that makes it really hard, this is Jesus telling a joke…

Mark 10:26–31 GNB

26 At this the disciples were completely amazed and asked one another, “Who, then, can be saved?”

27 Jesus looked straight at them and answered, “This is impossible for human beings, but not for God; everything is possible for God.”

28 Then Peter spoke up, “Look, we have left everything and followed you.”

29 “Yes,” Jesus said to them, “and I tell you that anyone who leaves home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and for the gospel,

30 will receive much more in this present age. He will receive a hundred times more houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—and persecutions as well; and in the age to come he will receive eternal life.

31 But many who now are first will be last, and many who now are last will be first.”

The first will be last, the last will be first…

Where do we place our trust?

What do we own… What owns us? What shapes our actions, our priorities, our life?

Question: Do you spend more on insurance than you give away?

A mentor of mine used to ask this question from time to time, one of those little ways to keep things in perspective… How much of our money to we spend to protect what we already have?

Reflect: In 2013, Shannan and I went to India with a church group. We were constantly overwhelmed at the generosity of God’s people in the church there. Here in Australia, when we give to charity, the church, a friend in need, we generally aren’t thinking about whether our family will be able to eat next week… We aren’t giving away our only means of providing food, shelter and medical care and we tend to view this sort of behavior as irresponsible… But this is exactly what our hosts in India were doing… Their faith, their trust, that God would provide was made real in their risky generosity and is a powerful witness to those of us living in wealthy nations like Australia where it is easy to get a bit comfortable…

This passage reminds us that having stuff isn’t wrong in itself, but that when our possessions, our money, become the primary focus of our life, that is a problem. This also becomes an issue of faith when we place our trust in our wealth rather than in God.

To experience hospitality from the poor is a humbling thing… It is something we need to learn from…

Conclusion

So what do we do with this…

Mark 10:19 GNB

19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit murder; do not commit adultery; do not steal; do not accuse anyone falsely; do not cheat; respect your father and your mother.’ ”

All of this stuff is good, it is life giving, but it isn’t the basis for our place in God’s family.

Mark 10:27 GNB

27 Jesus looked straight at them and answered, “This is impossible for human beings, but not for God; everything is possible for God.”

What do we own… What owns us? What shapes our actions, our priorities, our life?

May we be a community that places our trust not in our money, not in our property, not in our ability, but in Jesus.

May we reflect this trust in the way that we are honest and authentic when we make mistakes, seek forgiveness, but never doubt God’s love for us..

May we reflect this trust in the way that we show generosity to those around us…

May we reflect this trust in the way that we are prepared to serve outside our comfort zone…

Speaker: Rev. Stephen Rothery

I am married to Shannan and we love life in the Redlands.

 

I love tinkering with technology, have spent waaaay too much time in on-line gaming and am an early adopter of virtual reality. (Currently rocking a HTC Vive at home and GearVR for mobile) Before coming into ministry my background was in Electrical Engineering/IT which meant I spent a lot of time working with information systems and automation in factories and industry around Queensland. All of this means that I am basically a huge nerd 🙂

 

In terms of faith, I am passionate about journeying with people as they seek to follow Jesus and understand what this looks like in their family/work/community. None of us are perfect, but through God\’s grace we can make a difference as together we seek to bring hope in places of despair, love to those who feel lost or ashamed and comfort to those who are hurting.