Jesus said “sell all you have and give to the poor and you will have more than you need.” I ask “why? Why do I have to sell all I have and give it to the poor?” Why?
It’s a good question. Certainly goes against what all of us have been raised to believe. Money is an issue for all of us. It makes us feel good, and happy, and content, and safe. So. The more you have the better you feel. Makes sense.
In fact it is so protecting, it is easy to lose sight of where we are not at ease and that is in our relationship, our connect, with God.
The value of giving to the poor is twofold. It helps those who need it. There are people who really do need it. But it is also an outward expression of grace. In a way it is saying by action, “I do towards others as God has done towards me.” None of us can earn any relationship with God. Yet it is this God we seek relationship with that entered our world. Why? Could it be that God knows we need that relationship? Grace is God’s presence in the depth of our heart no matter where we may be inside. Just because.
What more could you ask for or need? Do for others as God has done for you. There you have it.
A large part of the question, “Who Am I?” is “Where Am I Headed?” To be alive means to move towards something. It is the question, “What Directs My Life?” Put another way, it is the question “Who or What Do I Serve?” What you serve may be your own self-interest, or your loved ones, or an ideal. It may be connected to what God you worship. Because, when you serve, you make a choice to put that object in front of you to follow. You say in essence, “I choose to be guided by that which I choose to serve.” To serve means to put your needs secondary. That’s the hard part. But when you do that, you find something which we all desperately seek: a sense of meaning to who we are and what we do.
It is very hard to say and mean it, “I am who I am, and that is all there is to it. There is nothing in life more important than me. I choose to serve my self” I will say this, and please leave a comment if you wish, serving self will leave you as empty as you can be because it is not something outside of your self towards which you have to move. When we follow, we find the way forward.
I choose to serve Christ by making my self available to him and ultimately to God. Choosing to live as Christ lived makes sense to me. Modal my life on his. To make one’s self available to the God revealed in the life of Jesus Christ is to find a purpose and meaning that makes life bearable.
It has become very clear to me that I make my own Gods and bow down to them. The temptation is so great to take my eyes off the real God, because that God cannot be “seen” the same way the Gods I make can be seen. So – in a sense – I say to my Lord Jesus, “You say you are God. That’s fine but I have my own, thank you very much. My idols, those self-made Gods, have become central to my meaning-making.” I don’t need Christ. “Crucify him, crucify him. Who cares? He says he is God, but I don’t trust him.”
Ponder this. Christ dies at my hands; I crucify Christ all the time. I claim this and ask forgiveness.
And so the Resurrection. God saying, “You want me out of your life. I am not leaving.”
And so I say, “Thank God.”
See you next week.
There is a line in Luke 12.33 that captured my attention. It speaks to the journey we are on together here. This is the line: “Make purses for yourself that do not wear out.”
A purse is that into which you put something that has come to mean something to you that you want to carry around with you; something that will add to your life like security or self-definition. Generally you won’t put something into your purse that means nothing to you. Why carry around something that does not mean anything to you. A purse is an empty space which you fill.
I can’t help wonder if it is an image of the soul. As we have mentioned before, at the center of our soul, that part of us that is really who we are, there is a searching, a seeking, to find meaning to this thing called life. This search for meaning, for that sense of “this is who I am”, is what separates human beings from their animal friends. In essence what this means is that we try to fill the emptiness with something that will come to mean something to us. Hence the image of a purse.
The desire to have a sense of ok ness to life, that sense that I mean something to my Creator means a lot to each of us, I think. The problem is does what we try to fill our lives with give us that sense of groundedness we seek.
And will they last. You see, whatever God I look to find that sense of “connect,” that sense of “groundedness” has to be there when the lights go out. In every person’s life, there are hard times; those times things happen that we had not planned on. It could be health issues, relationship issues, work issues, financial issues. Whatever they are, they challenge that center deep down. So the question becomes, I think, does what I focus on to find a sense of meaning have staying power. Or to use the words of the purse image, will they wear out. Only you know the answer to that.
See you next week.
“Lord Christ of the Resurrection, dwell deeply in the center of my soul.”
This is a prayer mantra I use every day as part of my quiet time. After reading from scripture — itself a rewarding endeavor — I sit back in my chair, with my back straight and hands at my side. I then recite in my mind’s voice that mantra which I found in a book on Celtic spirituality. It has come to mean much to me over the years. I highly recommend making some quiet space in your life before you get going.
I want to use this mantra to begin some work on why it means so much to me and many others to be a devout follower of Jesus the Christ and what it means to allow the relationship that God initiated with Jesus to enter into the center of who we are as persons. We will be working on this for a while.
It is, I believe, God’s desire to know us, to enter a relationship with us no matter who we are, or where we are in our lives, what we may have done or not done. It is the whole reason for God’s presence in our world in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus was perfectly human and perfectly God. I know this is hard for many to get. But somehow we got here and for some purpose. Anyway, Jesus, God and human being, came and ate with people the culture of the time had condemned. People with leprosy were looked at as people being punished by God for some big transgression against God. They were shunned. They had to walk down the streets crying at the top of their voice “leper, leper, leper. Stay away.” That was the rule of the time. Jesus, God and human being at the same time, hugged them in the sight of everyone. We will be coming back to the real nature of what sin is because sin is not what we have come to think it is. The word used for sin in the Bible has more to do with being something you are not rather than moral wrong doing. To “miss the mark” is the literal translation and it means to aim at something but miss it; to aim at something and end up somewhere else.
It works like this.
We have mentioned before how in every person there is a deep longing to “connect” with God. It does not matter whether you say you believe in God or not. The deep longing is there; it’s just that you “connect” with Gods of your own making that are easier to see and reason with. It is as if when God put the puzzle together which is you, God kept the last piece so that we will look for it. Many find the missing piece in worshipping and following God, or the Son of God. Many choose to find “connect” with gods of this world of which there are many. You know that. I don’t have to tell you this.
One of the greatest God of our own making is the God of Self. Me, mine, I. Ego. Ego however really mean to Ease God Out. This may sound cruel or idiotic, but you cannot worship two Gods. It is so easy to take our eyes off of the God we cannot see and turn towards the gods we can see.
This is the root cause of what is called idolatry. Which is the real Sin from which all other sins originate.