Steve McCutchan; Sept. 10,2017
This is what I would have said if the hurricane hadn’t interfered.
If the hurricane had not interfered, this was my last sermon at Maximo.
I think we should have a lot of sympathy for the man who came to Jesus and asked how to achieve eternal life.
First, he bothered to ask the question.
Many people are so focused on the lesser goals in life – wealth, success, fame, even survival – that they never stop to ask what life is all about.
As the psalmist suggests, life only lasts for about 70 or 80 years, but how do we discover what is lasting in that life.
Second, let’s agree that he came to the right person for his answer.
Even though we haven’t got it all worked out yet, we too believe that in Christ we can discover the true meaning of life.
That’s why we call ourselves disciples.
We are a work in progress, but at least we think we have found the right teacher.
Third, the man has demonstrated commitment to living a good life.
Note that Jesus asks him about 6 of the 10 commandments.
Those 6 commandments focus on our relationship with our neighbor.
Don’t steal, don’t kill, don’t bear false witness or covet that which is your neighbors, etc.
This is a man who lives an ethical life.
He happens to be wealthy but he is not greedy or selfish.
Wouldn’t you like to have him as a member of your church?
But if he is to be part of your church, he wants more than your acceptance and approval.
In his own experience, he has learned that wealth cannot guarantee health, happiness, or security.
So he comes to the Body of Christ seeking something more.
He hungers for an eternal truth that transcends the limitations of life.
We are told that Jesus looked at him and loved him.
It is out of that love that Jesus asks him to do something that seems to contradict what we assume is common sense.
“Go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”
Can you empathize with this man’s shock and grief?
How can Jesus ask him to give up his security based on his wealth and risk trusting in God for his future?
Even the disciples were shocked.
But Jesus doesn’t stop there.
It’s not because this man had some hidden fault.
His problem was his possessions, not his ethics.
‘Its easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God,” Jesus tells them.
Did you happen to notice which commandments Jesus didn’t mention.
He didn’t speak of the first 3 commandments.
Have no other gods before me, make idols, take the name of God in vain.
He spoke first to the man about love of neighbor but now he focuses in on the man’s relationship with God.
When he asked him to go and sell all that he had, he was focusing in on who or what the man trusted for his future.
Jesus knew that you cannot trust God and money for your future.
You have to choose.
He was showing the man how he had built his future on things that cannot be trusted.
Now be honest, do you think that story has anything to do with you.
Who or what do you trust for your future?
We live in a crazy economic climate where what we once thought was secure is at risk.
You may be very skilled at what you do.
Yet your job may not feel very secure.
You may have tried to be very prudent and invested wisely.
Yet with what has happened in the last five years, can anyone tell you how to be financially secure?
Are you comfortable entrusting your future and the future of your family on the wisdom of those who manage either your pension or Social Security?
So like the young man, we want to know who to trust for our future
But also like him, we are afraid to risk what we have in pursuit of that future.
Well, if it’s any comfort, the first disciples agree with you.
“They were greatly astonished and said to one another, ‘then who can be saved.’”
Jesus responded, “With humans with all our fears, it is impossible but with God all things are possible.
A couple of months from now you are going to be asked to make a pledge to this church. And you are going to be asked to raise your pledge as an act of faith.
To risk believing that all you have is a blessing from God and to show that trust by giving back a certain % of that blessing to God.
The Good News is that God understands not only our faith but also our fears and asks us to begin where we are.
Think about your gift last year and approximately what % of all that you have that makes up.
Then take the first step towards seeing what happens if you trust God for your future by giving even a little bit more.
What you will discover is that not only is God trustworthy but as you become more generous, you come closer expressing your true nature as a child of God.
By nature, we are a generous and loving people.
It’s our fears about the future and about each other that messes that up.
What is almost inevitably true, when a natural tragedy occurs – a hurricane, a flood, a fire, etc.
Despite their loss, people discover the kindness and generosity of their neighbors.
The national news reports on some tragedy and the offers of help pour in.
Our souls are naturally shaped by generosity.
Being true to our nature is to be generous.
When you make your pledge this year, I hope it will reflect the generous person God has created you to be and your trust that the God who blessed you with what you have will continue to bless you in the future.