Home > Trinity 6-15 > More than Stuff. Trinity 15, 2014.

More than Stuff. Trinity 15, 2014.


15th Sunday after Trinity+ St. Peter Lutheran Church+ St. Matthew 6:24-34 + September 28, 2014

“More than Stuff”

Iesu Iuva

 

Dearly beloved in Christ:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

In most societies throughout history it’s been easy to tell what gods they worshipped.  The biggest and most glorious buildings would always be temples built to honor their gods.  In ancient Rome even the sports stadiums and theaters were associated with pagan worship.  In the middle ages the biggest building in town was always—the church.

What are our biggest buildings?  The giant skyscrapers in downtown Chicago?  They’re built for business.  In most towns shopping malls and banks are among the biggest and most ornate buildings.  Maybe sports arenas fit in there too.

If you judged by our buildings, you might conclude that our society worships money, possessions, and entertainment.

That’s a strange thing.  We often hear Christians crying out about abortion, about gay marriage, about the decline of marriage and family.  And we should hear Christians speaking about these things, because God’s law speaks about them.  But how often are Christian voices heard calling our society to repentance for its false worship of wealth and possessions?  I don’t hear them.  Do you?

Instead what I see is Christians trying to win at the game our society plays.  Instead of critiquing our society’s obsession with material possessions, it seems as though Christians want to show that we can buy just as much stuff as the pagans.  We just want them to sell us “Christian” stuff.  And Christians try to come up with their version of whatever the pagan world is buying.  Is there a rock band or a rapper that’s popular?  In a little while there will be a “Christian” rock band or rapper that sounds just about the same, only with lyrics that vaguely talk about God.

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, “What shall we eat? “ or “What shall we drink?”  or “What shall we wear?”  For the Gentiles seek after all these things…(Matthew 6:31-32)  Jesus said that the pagan world worried about earthly possessions.  They sought their life in material possessions.  The pagan world is no different today.  It’s just that we have more.  People in Jesus’ day worried about whether they would have food or clothing.  We don’t worry about that as much in our time and place.  But the pagan world still looks for life in material possessions, only now it’s plasma T. V.’s, smart phones, i-pads…

But it’s not just the pagan world that does this, just as it wasn’t in Jesus’ day.  Those who are called by the name of the Lord also serve money and possessions, also known as “Mammon.”  Even those who don’t think of themselves as materialistic have been trained by our society to think of the point of life as being “the pursuit of happiness,” personal happiness, personal comfort.  And always in pursuing our own happiness and comfort we want certain possessions, certain pleasures, a certain level of wealth.  We may have different levels of desire for material things, but what is consistent is our fear that if we are denied those things, we won’t have a full life.

We are afraid of losing life and possessions, but God has already provided us true life through His Son.

Jesus preaches this sermon because you can’t serve both God and money, God and possessions.  If you’re worried about losing your standard of living, you won’t be able to focus on what God has called you to do.  You’ll be tripped up and diverted from your calling every time it looks like doing what God calls you to do might interfere with your income or paying the cable bill.

For instance, think of my calling as a pastor.  God has called me to speak His word without adding to it or subtracting from it.  But what happens if I am concerned with keeping my possessions and comfort?  Then I’m likely to avoid preaching or saying anything that might be unpopular—even if God says it.  Because if people don’t like it, people might leave.  And if enough people leave, I might have to learn how to make French fries.

Or think of your calling as a hearer of God’s Word.  This is a holy calling from God, as much as preaching is.  You are called to support the preaching of God’s Word with the firstfruits of what the Lord gives you.  But if you’re worried about your money and possessions and standard of living, you’ll be tempted to say, “I can’t give anything to the church,” or, “I can only give what’s left over,” or, “I can’t give very generously.  Times are tight.”

In fact, it can go even farther.  The devil tempts people to say, “I can’t go to church because I have to work.”  Now no doubt people have to work and pay the bills.  And sometimes there are no jobs that don’t involve working on Sunday.  But surely even then your need for God’s Word should drive you to find some time in the week where you can receive God’s Word and Sacrament.  God knows I’d make time to give it to you at another time if it was impossible to go to church on Sunday.  I’ve done it before.

But that is just one of many examples of how we are tempted not to fulfill our callings from God because we are anxious about losing possessions and money.  If you think about your other vocations or callings from god you’d find many other examples of where serving mammon either impedes your good works or draws you away from Christ completely.

For instance, how many people choose to live in sin rather than get married as God has commanded, because marriage comes at the risk of your spouse divorcing you and taking the money?  Or our calling to be citizens: we are called to submit to earthly authority out of fear of God, but how many Christians are eager to find any loophole that enables them to avoid taxes or get money from the government they aren’t really entitled to?

Now, who can say that they have never bowed down to this idol called mammon?  Don’t you often forsake your calling or are unfaithful because you are afraid of what the costs will be?

But isn’t life more than this, Jesus asks, more than food and drink, more than what you put on?  And aren’t you worth more than the grass and the birds?  And look how liberally God provides for them.  He extravagantly clothes the grass of the field better than Solomon in all his splendor.  And the grass of the field is here today and tomorrow thrown into the oven.  Aren’t you worth more than the grass?

God is the God who provides.  On the way up the mountain of Moriah, Isaac asked his father Abraham, “Where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”  Abraham told him, “The Lord himself will provide the lamb, my son.”  He is the Lord who provides what we need for our life on earth.  He is the Lord who provided our life in the first place.

And He provided still more; He provided His Son, His only Son, whom He loves.  He provided Him to the human race so that He would be one of us.  He exalted our human nature so that the eternal God is a man forever.  His flesh and blood sits forever at the right hand of God for us.  So we aren’t here today and tomorrow in the oven like the grass.  That’s how we would be in our sin.  But now the eternal God is joined to us and we are to live in union with Him forever.

And He was united to us by the nails of the cross where He made His perfectly faithful body and life wear the shameful garment of our corruption.  He redeemed us by His death so that we stand before the Father with no faults.

For His sake we receive daily bread, because He has turned away God’s wrath and brought about reconciliation with God.  And He teaches us to pray with Him, “Give us this day our daily bread,” giving us the assurance that God will not cast us out because we pray together with His beloved Son, who is one of us.

But He provides more than daily bread.

He provides us with God’s righteousness shed in atonement for our sins.  It is a righteousness that God has accomplished for us, a righteousness received as a gift, by faith alone.

He provides us more than earthly food.  He gives us spiritual food that makes our souls alive—the Word of His grace.

He provides us with glorious spiritual dress, more splendid than the beauty of the lilies.  He gives us the glory of His resurrected body.  We are to put on spiritual and immortal bodies in which we will see and reflect the glory of God in our flesh.

Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.  Seek Christ in His Word and Sacraments.  Don’t be afraid to be faithful in your calling; God has already provided for you eternal food and drink and clothing in His Son.  He will surely take care of your daily bread.

And He will give you more than what is just bread.  He will give you spiritual nourishment and spiritual joy.

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Soli Deo Gloria

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