Trinity 9 (2014)
Audio
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Delivered By
Pr. Mark D. Lovett
Delivered On
August 17, 2014
Central Passage
Luke 16:1-9
Description

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Money does not advance the kingdom of God. Worship advances the kingdom of God. At its core, worship or service, serving God, is to speak rightly about Him. That’s what “orthodox” means. It means “right speaking” or more directly it means “right worship”. You worship God when you speak rightly about Him, when you tell the truth about Him. It is not worship but profanation to speak wrongly about Him. God’s name is hallowed when the word of God is taught in its truth and purity and when we as the children of God lead holy lives according to it. But anyone who lives or teaches contrary to God’s word profanes the name of God.

We gather here to worship God; to speak rightly about Him. That’s why the liturgy is important. It keeps us rooted in speaking rightly. Worship isn’t about feelings or emotions or singing or such things. It’s about speaking rightly about God. And that and only that advances the kingdom of God. Not money.

So why do we give an offering? We give an offering because that is part of our speaking rightly about God. God is the God of the believer and the unbeliever, though they do not know Him or call upon Him rightly. Still, He is their God because there are no other gods. So He cares for them also. Not only so, but He cares for them through His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. For from Him and through Him and for Him were all things created and all things are sustained by Him. He is the Lord who sends the rain and the snow, the heat and the wind. He is the Lord that makes the crops grow and provides food for the young ravens when they cry. All creation receives all things through Jesus Christ who is the firstborn of all creation, the beloved Son of the Father. And we are His Body.

So through us, for we are the Body of Christ, the world is cared for. Now that may sound grandiose and farfetched, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true. We may not even seem to be living up to such a standard, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true either. Chiefly we pray for the world. That is the chief way we care for the world, through prayer. By the prayer of Christ the world was created, for in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth by the Word. Through the prayer of the Son the world was healed and salvation won, for the Word became flesh.

So the world enjoys peace, when it enjoys peace, because of the Prince of Peace. He reconciles enemies and casts hatred aside to be replaced by love. He does this with God and His enemies, and that spills over into us and our enemies. Thus it is written, “A kind word turns away wrath.” The life of Christ lived on earth will not always bring peace, but that’s because sinners reject Him, not because He doesn’t bring peace.

Think of it this way: when you go to make peace with someone they either receive or reject your peace, but either way you meant to bring peace. So it is with Christ. He means to bring peace on earth and good will toward men. Many sinners reject this peace, but it is still there, still offered, it is still the peace of God that passes all understanding.

And it is through you, the Body of Christ, that the Lord offers such peace. So it is written, “Love your enemies and do good to all.” This is nothing more than the Body of Christ doing what her Head does. So it is with unrighteous wealth, or mammon.

You don’t advance the kingdom of God by your offering, but you do show mercy by your offering. By it the Lord feeds the hungry and clothes the naked. By it He gives a cup of cold water to a little one, and for that you will not loose your reward. Whether it is $1,000 or $100 or just $1, your offering is used by the Lord for those who need it. It is a blessing from the Lord to the world and to His saints. By your offering you are speaking rightly about God, that He cares for the needs of all. You are speaking rightly about God that even if there seems to be not enough – like not enough bread or fish, not enough oil or flour – still He provides, multiplying what is offered so that there is more than enough.

But I know what some might be thinking: the Church doesn’t do nearly as much as the government in helping people. That is true, at least it is true here in the United States. But it is not categorically true. That is to say, governments are not instituted to care for the poor but to protect people from bodily harm. You are there to care for your neighbor. When we began to let the government care for our neighbor so we could focus on having a better life with more gadgets and toys, we lost something of our churchliness.

But our failure doesn’t negate the truth that the Lord cares for His creation, sustains His creation through the Church, which is the Body of Christ. It may be true that here or there the Church has become weak almost to the point of extinction due to lethargy, but we would be remiss if we considered that the Church in west isn’t prayed for and sustained by the church in the east, and vice versa. In other words, while we here and now contain the whole Church because we have and are given the word of God, we are not the whole church, thanks be to God. And before governments had welfare programs there was the Church doing what her Lord does: feeding the hungry and clothing the naked and tending to the sick.

So what of the parable of our Lord? I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings. In other words, care for your neighbors by your means, whether it’s your time or your wallet or both. And – God willing – they in turn will be friends of yours, coming to saving faith and receiving you in the eternal dwellings. For your treasure is certainly not this world’s wealth or toys or gadgets, and neither is your treasure some holy bank account in heaven, filled by your good works – that’s a pagan and worldly notion. No, your treasure sits around you, beside you, in front of you and behind you. Your treasure lives next door to you and across the street from you. Store up for yourself this treasure in heaven, for where you treasure is, there you heart will be also.

For that is the way of the Christ for whom you are the treasure, for whom He sold everything He owned to receive you into the eternal dwellings. Thanks be to God.

+ In Nomine Iesu +