Sunday, July 24, 2016
everything becomes a gift
And the warning we should take to heart, especially those of us living in the United States. Even those of us who are in rough circumstances... we're well off. We have it better than most people in the world... and better than most people throughout history. When one of our biggest concerns is LOSING weight because we eat so much delicious food every day... you know we've got it good. And to whom much is given...
But that actually brings up a good metaphor. See, if you enjoy eating burgers and pizza, you have a choice to make. You can either forgo your favorite foods... and stay healthy and fit. Or you can eat burgers and pizza all the time and get fat and unhealthy. OR... you can eat pizza and burgers in moderation, and exercise, and still be healthy and fit. The more burgers and pizza, the more you have to work out.
Now take that same logic and apply it to your wealth. As Christians, we take Jesus's stories very seriously. And He told a story in which the only thing someone did "wrong" was be wealthy. The rich man was just rich. Lazarus was poor. And the rich man didn't fare so well when he died. You might think the rich man did poorly because he ignored Lazarus. But Jesus even said "It's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God." Now there are many things that means, including a gate called the eye of the needle that camels had to kneel to enter. And, Jesus then said that nothing is impossible with God. BUT... we clearly are responsible for how we use the great gifts that God has given us in our lives, living in the time and the country that we do.
So here is how the metaphor plays out: if you have very little, you aren't responsible for helping as much. You still need to give... just like the widow gave her mite. But if you don't have alot, you can't give alot. However, as your blessings increase (like those burgers and that pizza), you have to act wisely. You have to be more generous in how you help other people (just like you have to exercise to stay fit). In other words, the more we enjoy, the more we need to exercise (our bodies in the case of burgers, our faith in action in the case of our spiritual life).
But having said all of that... after we take Lewis's advice to heart... we also see that everything in our lives becomes a gift. Now... I don't mean that everything starts out as a gift. Horrible things happen to us sometimes. We live in a fallen world, and the results of sin mean that sometimes little girls are kidnapped. Women are raped. These are NOT gifts from God. This is NOT God's will for these people. I see some bad theology online sometimes (believe it or not!) where people say "Wherever you are right now, this is God's will for you. Take a deep breath and enjoy it." Well, that's pretty bad advice to someone who is watching their loved one waste away from cancer. Or the mom who is praying every day that God will bring her missing child back to her.
God DOES redeem everything. EVERYthing. He turns everything in our lives into something good. For we know that God works all things for our good, for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.
So not everything starts out as a gift. Some things happen because sinners sin. But give everything to Him. He will redeem it. He will heal you. He will cause everything to work for your good.
You have His word on that.
God, thank You for making everything into a gift. Help us to be generous with those gifts.