It’s an old trope in the church that pastors are reluctant to talk about money while at the same time parishioners think their pastors talk about money too much. What do you think? I believe this just speaks to a historical and cultural squeamishness around personal finances. Sensibilities around money and the economic systems behind them were clearly of great concern to Jesus and Luke’s gospel presents some pretty straightforward insight into what God expects of us on this front.
“No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” (Luke 16:13, read all of chapter 16 here.)
Jesus is not squeamish at all to call it like it is and it’s hard to imagine Jesus being any less subtle than this. And I’ll confess, it still makes me squirm, every time I read or hear it.
As long as I’m being honest… I have spent A LOT of my life thinking about money. Much of this thinking has been centered on having enough. Do we have enough to buy this house? Do we have enough to start a family? Do we have enough to send the kids to college? Do we have enough going into these retirement accounts? I shudder to think about how much time I have dedicated to pondering these questions and so many more just like them.
Especially when compared to the time I’ve spent wondering, do they have enough to eat? Are they warm enough? Do they have a safe enough place to live? Do they have enough help? I have contemplated these questions too but certainly not nearly as often. I suspect naming this discrepancy is exactly the point Jesus is making to his audience of the comparatively well-to-do.
As we encounter Jesus’ teachings on money, wealth, economics, power, and privilege, we need to be ready to take a hard look into the mirror. I also think it’s important that Jesus isn’t saying that having wealth or power or privilege is inherently bad, it’s what you do with these things that defines their goodness.
Contrary to the old trope and even if it makes us a little squeamish, I hope we might spend some time today thinking about money. And, if possible, let’s spend less time thinking about whether we have enough and more time on what we might be able to do with what we already have. Finally, let’s consider who else God is calling us to serve.
May God’s peace find you this day. -Pastor Peter
Let us pray:
We are turning, Lord, to hear you, see you, and know you. You are merciful and kind, slow to anger, rich in blessings. With every twist and turn, lead our steps back to your grace and your mercy. Lead us in your ways of new life, forgiveness, and re-creation. We pray in the name of Christ, the one who reveals your love, Amen.