All (2): Freedom


11-12 Nov 2017, Christ Mountain Top
Call to Worship, Psalm 126
Children, Matthew 19.16-30
Message, Matthew 6.18-34
Mission Moment, Gary Shupp testimony

Me and my blood test – prying my fingers open
Proverbs 30:15  The leech has two daughters; "Give, give," they cry.
      Bondage to fear, anxiety
      Living defensively

Last week, first half of the chapter:
      Spirituality is not about performance – praying, fasting, giving
            “to be noticed” = Greek, theater
            “hypocrite” = Greek, actor
      Spirituality is not about manipulation or control
            “they have been paid in full”
      Spirituality is about devotion to God
            Because God is devoted to us

This week, second half of the chapter, specifically addressing connections between wealth and anxiety, a very interesting nexus. There are four parts, which Frederick Bruner describes as
            The two treasures
            The two eyes
            The two lords
            The two anxieties (Bruner, 319)

This freedom in our seasonal themes: Thanks, Giving.


Thanks: The two eyes
      Not a lens, but a lamp!
      The power of our focus to determine our moments & days
      Sometimes the focus is on what we do not have
            On scarcity rather than abundance
G. K. Chesterton wrote, “There are two ways to have enough money: one is to acquire more; the other is to desire less” (Bruner, 321).

      Dad’s salty meal
            Jesse – offer to trade, “inherently generous” (D&B)
      Spiritual practice of giving thanks over our meals is powerful!

Giving: two treasures, two lords
Treasures: Once more in this gospel, Jesus uses the phrase “treasures in heaven”.  It comes in Matthew 19:16-22.  A rich young man comes to Jesus and asks, “What must I do to have eternal life?”  After a few moments of conversation, Jesus tells him, “If you want to be perfect/mature, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven”.
      To live out the values of the kingdom and retain the title to stuff – no matter how much or how little we have – is much more complicated.  If you give it all away, there is no question where your treasure is.  Can you keep some, and not be tied to it?
      This is where the biblical teaching of the tithe comes in.  Jesus typically focuses on the fact that everything we have comes from God and belongs to God.  The larger biblical tradition offers tithing – giving a tenth – as a practical way to consecrate everything to God, as a way to live in the complicated situation of having stuff that really isn’t ours, that really belongs to God.  “If the part of the dough offered as first fruits is holy, the whole batch is holy” (Romans 11:16).  When we give God a portion, the first portion, a significant portion, a tithe, we become able to hold the remaining portion in trust for God.

Lords: God or “Mammon”.  This section uses language from the relationship of slave and master, or servant and master.  The word “Mammon”, a name used here for the god of wealth, reminds us that wealth or property has a spiritual power.  There is no reference to how much or how little we have, but a simple acknowledgment that too often our possessions – or those we hope to possess – possess us.
      “Mammon” comes from the Hebrew root “amen”.  “Amen” is not just a word that we append to prayer, but a word for what we trust (Thayer).  Our money has a saying on it: “In God we trust”.  That begs a very important question: “Which god?  Wealth or Jesus?”  Bruner translates this verse, “You cannot possibly serve God and Gain”.  John Chrysostom’s comment: When God says “not possible”, don’t you say “possible” (Bruner, 325).

      Jesse, lollipop

Romans 8:32  He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else?
      Promise of God’s extravagant care.  God cares for us more than the birds, and they eat a lot.  The purple martin eats its weight in insects on a daily basis – 7000 mosquitoes a day!  A hummingbird drinks twice its weight in nectar every day.  (See http://www.birdola.com/bird_facts.htm ).  God cares for us more than flowers, and they are more extravagantly clothed than the most glorious royals or the most beautiful brides.

The root of our practice of gratitude is God’s extravagant generosity. The root of our practice of generosity is God’s extravagant generosity. The root of our entire spiritual life, and all our practices, is the gift of God in Jesus Christ.

Next week:
      Commitment Sunday, spiritual practices (see ministry guide)

      Poster board testimonies – mine 

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