ďStriving for the TreasureĒ
Luke 12: 22-34
October 13, 2002
If you had to come up with a central theme for the Gospel of Luke, what would it be?† It is a theme which I have preached on several times, a theme that is so important, that if we miss it or neglect it, then we have overlooked a central point of our Christian theology.† What is this central theme of Lukeís Gospel that is so important for us as Christians?† It is this: with the advent of Jesus Christ, the kingdom of God has made a radical and dramatic entrance into world history.† It is this Kingdom of God that we Christians find ourselves living in and a part of, a Kingdom of God that is now as we speak changing the world as we know it.
Is the Kingdom here fully?† Well, yes and no.† Yes, in Jesus Christ, the Kingdom of God is an already reality, an already reality that is transforming the people of this world, and overturning the standards and values of the world.† We can rejoice and be glad that God is at work even now, not only in our lives and in the lives of the people of faith, but in every person who lives and breathes whether they know it or not.† We can rejoice and be glad that we live in the promise of God that Godís Kingdom has already come for us in Jesus Christ, our future is secure, our salvation is assured for all those who believe.†
But, no, the kingdom of God has not come fully, it is a not yet future reality.† We cannot be idle in our Christian discipleship and devotion.† We cannot assume that this is all there is to life, nor believe that this way of life is all that God intends for us, because it isnít.† We donít have to look long and hard to find that there is still suffering and evil in this world, but we can rejoice that this is not what God intends.† There is a future reality coming for this world, a future reality that will not be made manifest until Christ comes again in his glory, but thanks be to God that Godís kingdom is coming in full soon.
In the meantime, we continue to live in the tension of the already and not yet kingdom of God.† As we live in the hope of the coming kingdom, we must continue to remain faithful, we must continue to seek righteousness, we must continue to live our lives in the here and now, as if the Kingdom of God has already come.† The theological imperative of Lukeís Gospel is in actuality our own Christian imperative.† It is our calling and responsibility to live our lives in the reality of Godís Kingdom, in the reality of a new set of standards and way of life that is Godís standards and way of life.† We are to view the world from the Kingdomís radical new perspective, to be followers of Jesus Christ in a world that is even now passing away and being changed before our very eyes.
Lukeís Gospel is full of parables and sayings that demonstrate and explain how we are to live in Godís Kingdom, and our text for today is one more important example for our lives of faith.
Jesusí words to his disciples are as wonderful and hopeful as they come.† There is nothing but good news in his words.† Godís eternal will for us is that we are to have everything we need, therefore we should not be anxious or worry about our lives, about such things as food or clothing.† Not only does God know what we need, but God will also give us all we need, and much more.
Yet, as wonderful and as hopeful as Jesusí words are for us, I canít get over the fact of how utopian they are in their idealism.† I cannot overlook the fact that they do not accurately describe the circumstances of our everyday human lives.† On a world level, it doesnít take much to see that there is a glaring shortage of necessities in this world.† Millions of children are dying each day from starvation.† Millions more do not have enough food or clothing, let alone shelter, to sustain them.
On a personal level, who among us here has not at one time or another been anxious or worried about having what we need.† I canít count for you the number of times Iíve been worried or anxious in my life about being able to afford even just the important stuff life food and clothing.† The problem is that I have to be able to pay for things other than just food and clothing.† There is always much more that we ďneedĒ, isnít there.† We need health, car, and home insurance.† Air-conditioning and heat, phones and electricity, water, natural gas, furniture, gas and oil for our cars, soap and shampoo, the list goes on and on, and who can forget about having to pay taxes.
The kingdom of God may be an already reality, but I know for a fact that it is a not yet future reality because I still have a stack of bills on my desk at home that need to be paid.† I wish I didnít have to worry about life like the ravens or the lilies, but I do.† I have a house to pay for, two daughters, which means eight strait years of college, not to mention two weddings. †Of course, we worry and are anxious about our lives especially when it comes to finances.† I may have not done very well in accounting, but I sure know what it means to be in the black or in the red.†
Yet, Jesusí words still stand for us.† In spite of their seemingly irrelevancy to our everyday lives, they still proclaim the wonderful good news of Godís providence and pro-active working in our lives to give us what we need.† Maybe the key then to an anxiety and worry free life lies for us not in a worldly level but in a faithful and spiritual level.†
Maybe the key for us to unlocking the treasures of heaven is not to strive for the things of this world, but to do as Jesus says and strive for Godís kingdom, to redefine for ourselves what we value and what are our priorities in life, to begin seeing and recognizing what truly matters and is most important in a world where Godís sovereignty, love, and goodness reigns supreme, to begin to realize that our security and happiness can never be found in our portfolios or the size of our estate.† Our security and happiness can only be found in the treasures that only God can give, peace, hope, love, forgiveness, and salvation.†
If we are to truly live as Christians in the already and not yet kingdom of God, then we must begin living in the full trust of God, believing with every ounce of our being that Godís good pleasure is to give us the kingdom, that God will never let us down when the going gets tough, even when we become anxious and worried about our life, and to put all that we are and all that we have toward the kingdom.
Last Sunday at our fellowship dinner, Don McClure treated us to a wonderful presentation of the history of Finley Memorial.† This church has a rich history, full of great stories and special people.† But, there is one story in its history that really speaks volumes about the faithfulness and spirituality of our forefathers and foremothers.†
The church we are worshipping in today was completed in December of 1929.† Do you know what is significant about that year?† Do you know what happened a mere two months earlier of that same year?† That was the year of the stock market crashed in October of 1929.† In spite of the tremendous financial loses experienced by millions of people, in spite of the enormous anxiety and worry about their economic future, our forefathers and foremothers saw to it that this church would continue to be built, a church for the people of this community, a church where people could come worship together, where they could come and hear and learn Godís word, where they could spend time in fellowship, and have their bodies, minds, and souls fed, nurtured, and renewed by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Maybe this is what it is all about.† Maybe this is what Jesus is trying to tell us.† The witness and work of all those who have gone before us testifies to the truth of the gospel, that when we strive for Godís kingdom, when we strive for the treasures of heaven over the treasures of a world that is passing away, that what we will obtain will never fail, will never be stolen, and will never be destroyed or fad away.
Brothers and sisters, let your faith be a witness to others that you live by different standards and values than the world, let you faith be a witness to others of your spirituality, that you trust God beyond anything else that has worldly value, that you strive for nothing less than the kingdom of God, and let you faith testify to the good news of the Gospel, that where your treasure is, there your heart is also.