“Losing to gain”
In studying this text it was very clear that this is a tough piece of scripture to understand and some theologians differ in their viewpoints to some of its many parts.
In preaching and teaching, like in our Christian lives the topic is always the good news of Jesus and that is how it always must be. But like we don’t look from afar to those in need, nor did Christ to us as he came to us in the muck to bring us the truth.
Our muck that cost His life that we may for ourselves understand Him when he tells us “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free”
This is a difficult text and I pray that “the words of my lips and the Meditations of our hearts be acceptable to you Lord”.
Everyone in this life has and will experience and live with pain. That’s just how it is and we all deal with it differently, or at least we think we do.
In the last year of studies at the Seminary/Australian Lutheran College the potential pastoral graduates take together a three month “physc.” type class that is not designed to understand others but to bring out our own stuff and help with understanding ourselves. It is a little like the “Better Blokes” concept where in a safe and non-judgemental environment the participants sometimes for the first time lay it all on the table.
For some, to re-live the un-liveable is too much and a horrific and harrowing experience. And that I would prepare for sleep knowing that my regular nightmares and thrashing of arms and legs awaited me in my sub-conscious state, it did not concern me and the lecturer made comment to the unusual, almost callous strength I had of carrying on without any wounds from the pain of life’s hardships.
Yet when I found out this week that our good friends and a colleague of mine is coping with the harrowing prospect of losing their 15 week old baby still in the womb, I realised I was wrong and for the first time, I think I understood Jesus’ words He has told us today because while Jesus sets this parable about mammon (money) it could be any of the multitude of “retail therapies” that we gravitate towards to hide our innermost fears of not being as successful or strong in our earthly dream as it was meant to be and try to deceive others and indeed ourselves like a photo shopped portrait on Facebook, and “stop me in my tracks” on a first reading of this passage of scripture Jesus seems to be impressed with the wisdom it takes to pull off such a charade. Jesus knows cunning when he sees it, yet the cleverness he acknowledges here is the type displayed in a guy I once worked with who had remarkable ways of avoiding work, yet ironically he spent more effort getting out of work than simply doing the work put before him in the first place.
Like to that man, Jesus warns us of spending a lot of effort focussing on hiding our shortcomings, our shame, our fears and our sin from others and ourselves to “fit in” and be accepted because eventually and ultimately our eyes will be drawn away of our relationship with God the Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
We all like to be accepted by those around us but should our Facebook portrait be different to the one we see in the mirror each day we are building our self-worth on a house of cards that will sooner or later come tumbling down and that is the central point of this text found in verse 9 of the steward only wanting hospitality now, up and against Jesus pointing to His eternal welcome saying:
“And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into eternal wealth”.
An earthly rise before our fall to where we have to face those things hidden in the nether regions of our sub conscious minds and souls and throw the guilt, the shame and the pain at our Lord’s feet and understand the words “Lord have mercy” truly for the first time and line up alongside a slave trader and know for ourselves what he found in the depths that “we were once lost, but now are found. Was blind, but now see that it was grace that taught our hearts to fear and grace that relieved them”.
Jesus said “You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” His truth and freedom that came in the darkness of His death and in the light of His resurrection. His truth and freedom that shines into the darkness of our souls that we too are raised up in our earthly lives and understand the words of Isaiah not from ourselves, but for ourselves from our Lord and Saviour who has accepted you as you are, forgiven your sins, and wherever you may go continues to travel with to lead you home. And “Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men and women stumble badly, yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary” and in each of our hearts heed His words “That my grace is sufficient for thee, for most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me”. That together as one we can profess, that “The Lord is our strength and our song, and he has become our salvation; this is our God, and we will praise him our father’s God, and we will exalt him.
The other day while driving, I noticed a boy walking not to school, but away from school and later found out that he misses a lot of school because after he’s dropped off, he wanders the streets till classes finish and can then return home”.
As our offerings to the Lord are accepted, I would like to play two songs in the same order as John Schumann has placed them on his “Behind the lines album”. The first of a young nurse named “Rachel” broken by the reality of war and life, followed by his singing of “Wings of an eagle” because I was wrong, the pain can hurt and I beg and pray to Christ that he “will mount that school boy and others like him up with wings like eagles. That they too will run and not get tired and that they will walk and not become weary” and that though through many dangers, toils and snares they still travel, that the grace that has kept them safe so far will become known to them, that they too may follow it home.
Amen, let it be so.