Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I wanna be a billionaire so . . . . bad

So go the lines of a fairly popular song right now.  I ask that, if you know it, you sing along with the PG lyrics in your head.  The desire to be rich is if not quite, almost, universal.  Everybody - or, again almost everybody - would be able to rattle off what we would do if we had an 'extra' $100,000 or a million.  Right, we all have things that we would do and stuff that we would buy, right now.  
The pursuit of money is a tricky thing, however.  {Warning: many of you have heard me say this before] John D. Rockefeller, at the time one of the richest men in the world, when asked the question 'How much money is enough?' Immediately responded, 'Just a little bit more.'  
That is the rub with the pursuit of money, or the desire for the things that money can buy, there is never really an end to it.  There is always 'a little bit more' money to be made, 'a little bit more' stuff to acquire.  And so on.  When we allow the pursuit of money or stuff to become our focus or even just 'a' focus, we succumb to that dirty word, greed.  
This is where today's daily lectionary passages come in (which, as always can be found here:  ) 
The passage from Ephesians 5 begins by calling us to be imitators of Jesus Christ.  Paul calls the Ephesians, and all of us, to the high and challenging life of following in Christ's footsteps.  At this point Paul goes on to illustrate some of the things that imitating Christ isn't.  There is to be no fornication or impurity of any kind.  Different people will 'draw the line' of what is 'fornication' in different places, but for this discussion let us just agree that Jesus holds us - and himself - to a very high standard of purity.  
Paul says that you can't have 'even a hint' of impurity and really be imitating Christ.  And, of course, it is in imitating Christ that we are able to share God's love with others.  
It isn't until the passage gets to a discussion of greed, though, that we get the bottom line reason as to why all of these 'impurities' must be eliminated from our hearts, minds and lives. In verse 5 Paul equates someone who is greedy with an idolater.  
This is the point, when we allow things into our lives: sexual sin, desire for money and/or stuff, other relationships, anything that is not focused on God and our call to follow Christ and participate in the mission and work of God, we become idolaters.
That is an important understanding for us to have, and one that is easy to ignore.  It is easy and even natural to say its only this little sin or 'everybody wants more money or more stuff', etc.  But none of it is little.  When we choose to allow anything into our hearts that is not of God we allowing that to - even if only for a moment - to become our God.  
When our allow our hearts to lust, we are practicing worship of something other than God.  When we become greedy - as opposed to gracious and thankful for what we have been blessed with - we let money become our God.  When we give in to sin and impurity we make space for something to come between us and our God.  
How do we move away from the sin, impurity and darkness in our hearts, minds and lives?  We simply ask God to shine the light of Jesus Christ in our hearts, through our minds and in our lives.  
May the light of Jesus Christ shine in your heart and mine.  In your life and mine and may that light guide our minds and our actions.  Amen.

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