8/4/2019 – Luke 16:1-13

by admin on August 4, 2019

8/4/2019 – Wrap-up Message Audio


I Wish Jesus Wouldn’t Have Said That-5.

Luke 16:1-13

4 August 2019


Todayàthe hardest reading in NT


What gives?  You got to be kidding? 

Surface:  we’ve been served steady diet of corporate and institutional corruption: Enron, Martha, Halliburton…..

Dishonesty—Jesus commends it.


Larger picture:  long series of stories in Luke re: how to handle wealth, material possessions.   This is a major concern—crafting a spirituality of possessions (mammon)


Song of Mary (1:46-55)

John Baptist   3:10-14

Jesus 1st sermon    4:16-30

Blessings/ woes     6:20-25

Rich fool      12:13-21

Warning re: anxiety  12:22-31

Advice to dinner guests/hosts   14:7-14


Text:  worker faced with crisis not unfamiliar—pink slip in hand this guy must determine a course of action that will secure his future.  Urgency defines his reality and mission. 

He’s in crisis. 


Any less a crisis than one faced by others—when Jesus intrudes and interjects “Follow me”  Somehow follow me does carry wallop that Donald Trump used to: You’re fired. 

Follow me sounds more subtle, yet it has urgency too, requiring a life-changing response from us. 


One more time: how we live right now has important consequences for God’s kingdom.  How we live includes friends we choose, how we spend out time, how we use our wealth.  Important consequences for the Kingdom.


Gifford Lecture at St. Andrews.  2001.  Stanley Hauerwas, With the Grain of the Unhiverse.   God is moving in a particular direction and making that direction known through the work of JC and his cross.  Jesus story today:  that worker surveyed the direction of his life and acted shrewdly.  He used all the means at his disposal to adapt to a new reality.  Should we be no less shrewd in adapting to God’s reality? 


Crucial distinction between “dishonest steward” and “children of light”  We don’t make same choices, but we can follow that example of making choices that are in keeping with the future God is placing before us.  Remember we are following Jesus—he is showing us what that future will be for people who follow him.


One of the things that’s important to do when reading/studying the Bible is to ask “why did Luke put this in?”  I think we have here a great example of Luke interpreting the Jesus tradition for a new audience.  We try to hear a message from Jesus and about Jesus. 


That verse: streetwise persons….I want you to be smart in the same way..is the heart.  How we handle this legacy we call Nova Faith does have eternal consequences.


So often we can get sidetracked into believing that projects, and budgets, and worship styles, is really what church means.  As I’ve said before….this is not about church, it’s about Jesus.  Church is but a vehicle.


It’s that Jesus thing.  The presence of Jesus puts a crisis in our midst.  Interesting thing is that you can’t hear him call and give no answer.  Harvey Cox: not to decide is to decide.   What happens after that yes to Jesus? 


Daily crisis through the values we hold, relationships we form, attitudes we live by, …oh yeh…the money we use.  Every little choice we make every day has important repercussions for God’s future. 


I’ve always despised this parable.  That’s why I didn’t have any sermon in my file……Until our wise elders suggested a study series on “Stuff I wish Jesus Wouldn’t Have Said”.  I don’t like words like “shrewd” “clever” to describe us in the Kingdom.  Difficult to speak of shrewd saint.  But maybe that’s because of our anti cerebral bias in church and unwillingness, if not inability, to conceive of thinking as a kingdom activity.


Thinking….how is our thinking an activity of God’s kingdom?


I’m really amazed that two of the biggest blessings Nova Faith has been given is money and smart people.  Exactly the two issues at play in today’s Gospel.  Now what?


God’s future will happen whether we’re ready or not.  Bigger question for us on the threshold of a new general of faith—shall we move with the grain of the universe? Or drift in the current flow around us? 


If the crooked manager had enough smarts to use all his resources to secure his future; why shouldn’t we?  What are our resources?  Certainly money and smarts, but even more basic that that is our hope in God’s justice, our faith in God’s peace and our trust in God’s grace.


And the master will commend us for acting so shrewd

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