God is Setting All Things Right. So I am Blogging Through the Bible in a Year.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

October 26 - Luke 12-13: On Possessions and Who is Saved - Both are Irrelevant

Today’s Reading: Luke 12-13

The Message

English Standard Version

Thought to Guide Your Reading

Jesus begins the long transition of His Ministry to His Apostles.

Summary in 100 Words or Less

Jesus comforted His Apostles. God would help them through trials.
Jesus warned, "Possessions do not matter. Focus on giving, not getting. Your heart follows your treasure.
"Responsibilities are based on gifts. I've come to set everything right, not nice and easy. People will fight their closest family members."
Jesus warned against comparing sins, "Repent or join these sinners in death!"
His critics were embarrassed when they challenged Him for healing on the Sabbath.
"God's Kingdom lifts many with a few. How many are saved is irrelevant."
Jesus said He would die in Jerusalem because they killed God's Chosen Prophets.

How Today’s Reading Contributes to the Gospel: God is Setting All Things Right

Jesus did not care about possessions and did not want His Chosen People focused on possessions.

Jesus was asked pointblank to help a disenfranchised man gain an equal share of his family's estate. He turned it down, not because He doesn't care for social justice but because Jesus cares nothing about possessions. We were to focus on giving not receiving. Jesus did not want to be part of this conflict. He did not want anything to do with fashion. He emphasized that life is more than food and clothes.
One of the problems I have with more progressive politics is the need to tie Jesus to income and possession inequality. Jesus is used to justify taking from the rich and giving to the poor though taxes and social programs. We can debate the merits of these social problems as potential solutions, but Jesus would consider those debates meaningless (or at least not part of His Ministry). Jesus did not come to solve systematic problems in society. He came to solve individual problems in society and through that solve systematic problems in society. Social justice, to Jesus, was not about equal income or access to healthcare. Social justice was about voluntarily giving to those in need—not because you were commanded to but because you wanted to set things right. This is why taxes can never fulfill Jesus' aim for His Chosen People. Taxes can never be given freely. They are always taken under threat of fines or imprisonment. Greed to gain more and more possessions is no better than greed to seize those riches. Life is more than food and clothes (or healthcare).

Jesus will come unexpectedly.

Jesus wanted to make sure His Chosen People were setting things right and not waiting around for the "end times". Since we do not know when He will arrive, we should always have things set right for His Coming.

Jesus did not come to bring "peace".

Peace that the world wants is actually "agree with me at all costs". Political debates are considered the antithesis to peaceful dialogue most of the time because these debates focus on getting the other person to agree with you—no matter if you are correct. Jesus' Way sets people against another. Jesus' Way leads to more arguments, more fights, more animosity because it is not based on agreeing with you but obeying God. Jesus' Way is not peaceful because we do not want to set all things right but because there will always be someone fighting God's Chosen People. Sometimes the fights will come from the inside. Jesus wanted us to know God does not abandon us in the fight. God is in the fray alongside us, giving us what we need to know to defend His Way. We may go to jail or become "that annoying Christian person", but if we are setting things right we should not fear what happens.

Who is "saved" and who is not is irrelevant to God's Chosen People.

Jesus' point in dismissing any comparison in sin is because we have much more pressing matters before us. Jesus warned that people could sit around and compare themselves to "pagans" and feel great about their lives, but when they arrived at the Gate they realized they knew nothing about God and were rejected. The reason who is "saved" and who is "unsaved" is irrelevant is because we do not decide in the end. Only God decides who can enter the Kingdom. We are to focus on setting things right.
Understanding this passage transformed my teaching and preaching. I once focused so much on the "salvation" moment that I tried to get people who knew nothing about Jesus into the baptismal water. I wanted to "save" them using the blood of a complete stranger! How many years have we spent arguing over who God would allow or reject into Heaven? Generations! Instead, it is essential that we focus on getting our lives right with God. If we did this we would see Jesus' parables come true.

Only a few, dedicated Chosen People can set many things right in a community.

This is what the parables of the pine nut (or mustard seed) and yeast are about, God can set a multitude of things right using only a few people dedicated to spreading His Way.

Jerusalem was a paradox: God's Chosen City who killed God's Chosen Messengers.

Jesus wanted to gather Jerusalem and set everything right but they refused. Instead they consistently killed the Prophets God sent. God chose Jerusalem to be the city where He lived. He wanted the city to be the bulb where His Light could go to the nations. Instead, they never truly obeyed Him. They eventually set up shrines to other gods inside the Temple. When God sent Jesus to call them to repent and set things right they rejected Him. Beware the Chosen People Paradox. Chosen People can become the most ardent opposition to Jesus setting all things right.

Do you focus on getting your life set right or arguing over who can or can't go to Heaven?

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