Pastor Jim's Message

Jim

Pastor Jim's Message

 

Eugene Peterson’s version of the Bible entitled The Message is a translation that puts the Bible into today’s language and often times convicts the heart and soul. Consider how Peterson translates Luke 12:29-34.

 

“What I’m trying to do here is get you to relax, not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep yourself in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Don’t be afraid of missing out. You’re my dearest friends! The Father wants to give you the very kingdom itself. Be generous. Give to the poor. Get yourselves a bank that can’t go bankrupt, a bank in heaven far from bank-robbers, safe from embezzlers, a bank you can bank on. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.”

 

Peterson says what needs to be said succinctly and with conviction. It is hard to say I do not understand. Many of us know the ending to this passage as “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

 

Jesus is talking about wealth and money and economics, but he’s really interested in the economy of the heart. “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Lk. 12:34). We could flip this around and say that where your heart is, there will your treasure be also. If the heart is the right place—really, truly in the right place—you know that’s your treasure. And if your heart is in the wrong place, with the wrong priorities, you might think you have treasure, but you really don’t. How one relates to money is a kind of cardiogram, providing a picture of the condition of one’s heart. You might be rich in the eyes of the world, but from God’s perspective you’re impoverished. Doesn’t Proverbs say, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Prov. 4:23)?  When the heart is open and broad and generous, the heart has found its treasure, its true treasure! When your heart is in the right place, that is the treasure. And Jesus wants his disciples, wants us, to have our hearts in the right place.

 

When our hearts are in the right place, God entrusts us with riches that don’t belong to us—such as grace and love and compassion and justice and the gospel itself. These are “riches” that don’t belong to us, but which God nevertheless wants to give us. We could ask ourselves, then, Are we trustworthy? Are we dependable? Are we good stewards, managers, economists? We might ask, “What does ‘good’ and what does ‘trustworthy’ mean from a kingdom perspective, where all the rules have been changed?” In the Kingdom, up is down; down is up. Those on the inside are on the outside; those on the outside are on the inside. God’s Kingdom or Realm or Empire has a different ethic and a different value system where “what is prized by human beings is an abomination in the sight of God”. To remember this simply reread the parable of The Prodigal Son. The older son (representing the Jews) cannot understand how his father (representing God) could be so gracious and forgiving to the prodigal (representing the Gentiles) (see Luke 15:11-31). Sometimes our hearts are not where God’s heart is.

 

What we consider “good” and honest and dependable are going to look very different from God’s perspective. The values of God’s Empire will always appear wacky and unjust and weird and maybe even wrong to the eyes of the world.  That’s because the “riches” of grace and love and compassion and justice and the gospel, itself, require a different kind of economy, they operate within a different kind of economy. A different kind of heart is required of us; it requires a heart that is healthy, a heart in the right place, a heart whose treasure is what God treasures most.

 

--Jim

 

 

Last Published: October 11, 2019 1:33 PM
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