Sermon – Epiphany 6 – February 17, 2019
Luke 6:17-26 ‘Investing in Life’
CT: True wealth, well-being, and joy are not found in the fleeting things of our world, but in the eternal gifts of Christ.
Intro: We live in a world that inundates us with ideas of not only how to spend your money but how to invest it. We make appointments with our bankers or financial advisors to look at the maze of acronyms like RRSPs, TFSAs, or GICs. Other people spend hours studying the stock markets to find the best investment opportunities; what will make me the most money. Yet it seems that every year another ‘get rich quick’ scheme surfaces on the evening news telling the sad tale of people who have foolishly invested in them and lost everything. But investments are not all about money; we invest in education, work experience, and we invest ourselves in other people (we call that family). In our Gospel lesson Jesus spoke about our investment habits, but He’s not giving us a hot tip for the Toronto Stock Exchange; He’s addressing the way we invest our lives.
Investments: Many have tried to put Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount from Matthew’s Gospel together with our reading from Luke. But in Luke, Jesus spoke to people on a level place, not on a mountain. He was right in the midst of the crowd; His words were in their faces. And given the context, you can’t simply spiritualize His words. Jesus had compassion on the people and healed all who were sick as He taught them. So much so that the crowd sought to touch Him, “for power came out from Him and healed them all.”
And so while all those people grasped and clamoured for the temporary gift of healing, Jesus spoke sharp words about their investment strategies—and ours. Jesus divided our investment options into two distinct categories; blessing and woe. And we would do well today to carefully consider Jesus’ words, for the woes look like everything we are invested in and the blessings contain all the things we would definitely avoid. No one comes to the there pastor asking how they can be poor, hungry, sorrowful, and persecuted.
Woe: But who would like to be rich? Statistically, if you live in Canada you already are. We are part of that 3% of the world’s population with 90% of the world’s wealth. Dr. Nunes of CLWR said it leaves us with a bad case of ‘affulenza’. Money and wealth is not condemned in the Bible; our love for it is. The Old Testament patriarchs like Abraham and Jacob were wealthy. King David was rich and Solomon even richer. It was a wealthy believer named Joseph of Arimathea, who petitioned Pilate for Jesus’ body, putting His body to rest in his own tomb. It’s not your money or things that are evil; it’s how invested we are in them that is.
When we are fully invested in what we have, the comforts and delicacies of my life, how much I’m enjoying myself now, especially when my laughter comes at someone else’s expense, and how other people see my place in society, then I should be afraid. This is not the soft, squeezy, sponge Bob Jesus speaking. Those who relied on earthly wealth are eternally destitute. Those who were full of their own righteousness are eternally empty. Those who laughed at sin will weep eternally. You can deceive yourself with earthly rewards only to find that the things of this world don’t last, and not learning the truth until it’s too late.
Blessing: Humanity’s sin, in which we are fully invested in, has created a world full of inequities. Poverty, hunger, and tears are largely a measure of where you were born. But don’t think that impoverished people are immune to greed, or don’t live at the expense of others, or are incapable of putting together their own human pecking order. Our hubris is evident no matter how much or how little we have. So no, Jesus is not championing world poverty as the way to go; He’s addressing our spiritual poverty; how poorly we are invested in our relationship with our heavenly Father. We are over invested in the things of this world, leading to woes and have no chance of God’s eternal blessings unless He invests in us; unless He opens a spiritual portfolio that we might have life, where His work of faith in us shapes how we invest our lives in the midst of whatever we’ve been given.
Understanding the depth of our spiritual poverty is a great blessing for only into empty hands God does place His kingdom. If our hands are too full of what we have and what we can do then there’s no room for His kingdom. And He satisfies our aching hearts by meeting our hunger for forgiveness with His Son. We can spend our whole lives grasping at straws, looking to all kinds of things, people, and experiences to be happy, but nothing is a substitute for the relationship God makes with us through His Son. Unable to fathom the depth of God’s love we weep and mourn over sin in us and in the world, knowing how much God invested in us; He gave His only Son. And none of us is strong enough to stand up to a vile world that strikes out viciously against the Christian faith. We can’t stand against the devil and his hordes, but Jesus has. The work of the Holy Spirit will cause you to stand when you are excluded, reviled, and your name is spurned as evil for bearing Jesus’ name. The devil will be angry and the world will react but you can rejoice in knowing that God is at work in you; your confession of Jesus has hit the mark.
Invested in You: These blessings are only possible because God has fully invested Himself in you. The birth of Jesus, His life, suffering, death, and resurrection is God investing Himself in you. And your Baptism, the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ in this meal, the words of absolution, and the message of this sermon is all God investing Himself in you, filling your poverty with His riches. As Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you by His poverty might become rich.” (2 Corinthians 8:9) Christ’s blood shed on the cross is for the life of the world; it’s God’s overwhelming investment in the forgiveness of all of your sins that He would ultimately change not only your eternal destiny, but how you invest your life in the world around you. God’s love, forgiveness, and the certain hope of your salvation have been invested in you and will bear a return for Him for the sake of your neighbour.