Lectionary blog for Aug. 11, 2013
Pentecost 12 — Proper 14
Text: Luke 12:32-40

Most of us don’t spend a great deal of time worrying about the kingdom of God. Holding on to our jobs, raising our kids in a safe and decent world, bringing them up to be good and decent people, making the house payment, etc. etc.; these are the things that occupy our minds.

If we think of the kingdom of God at all, we think of it as a somewhat vague religious term that has something to do with church and maybe the social ministry committee or something. Whatever it is, it seems to have little or nothing to do with the way we live most of our lives, most of the time.

A careful reading of the Gospels show that most of what Jesus talked about most of the time had to do with two things: money and the kingdom of God. And Jesus seldom talked about one without talking about the other. In his preaching and teaching the two are intimately intertwined.

The kingdom of God is like — a man who had two sons and the younger came to him and demanded half of the inheritance.

The kingdom of God is like — a vineyard owner who pays everyone the same, no matter how much or how little they had worked.

The kingdom of God is like — a master who gives his servants varying amounts of money and then judges them on how they have managed it.

I could go on, there are many, many more.

We have a tendency to want to spiritualize these stories, to make them about something other than money, to make them into something they are not. We can’t do that. The texts won’t allow it. Jesus knew what he was saying, and he said it very plainly.

The already but not yet kingdom of God has very important practical implications for how we treat our neighbor and how we treat our money.

In this Gospel lesson, Jesus makes it very clear that the coming kingdom is firmly rooted in the gospel of grace. The kingdom is not something we achieve or earn or build or create or prepare for through what we do. The kingdom is pure, sweet, unmerited and undeserved grace.

“Do not be afraid little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

Yes, the kingdom is a gift; it’s free, no strings attached.

But receiving the kingdom into our lives is costly.

The kingdom changes the way we live our lives; it changes the way we define the purpose of our lives; it changes the things we care about and worry about; it changes the way we treat our neighbor, and yes, it changes the way we manage our money.

“Sell your possessions and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

Where is your treasure? Where is your heart? If it is not with Christ, where is it? And why is it not with Christ? And if your heart is with Christ, why do you still cling to your stuff? To your money, your goods, your treasure?

Becoming a citizen of the kingdom of God frees us from our slavery to the here and now.
Becoming a citizen of the kingdom liberates us from our anxiety about worldly success.
Becoming a citizen of the kingdom releases us from bondage to our earthly treasure.
Becoming a citizen of the kingdom of God releases us to love God and neighbor with all our heart, mind, soul, strength and stuff.

In verses 35-38 of our text, Jesus tells a very interesting parable in which the master becomes the servant of the servants. He is so pleased at their readiness, their preparation and attentiveness that he makes them all sit at a table and serves them.

Who does that sound like? Oh yes, Jesus in the Upper Room, taking off his belt and kneeling on the floor and washing the disciples’ feet.

Jesus there shows and tells his followers that the kingdom of God is a kingdom of servants — people whose purpose in life is serving each other and the world.

The kingdom of God is not a place, or better, the kingdom of God is any place where people let go of their stuff, their pride, their willfulness, their sin and grab on to God.

The kingdom of God is not a place; it is a trust in almighty God so strong, so secure, so trusting so filled with life and love and the laughter of faith that all else fades into nothingness.

How does one make sure one is ready when the kingdom comes? By living each day as though the kingdom were already here.

Amen and amen.

Talk back:

  • Where is your treasure? Where is your heart?
  • In what ways can you ready yourself for the time when the kingdom comes?
Delmer Chilton
Delmer Chilton is originally from North Carolina and received his education at the University of North Carolina, Duke Divinity School and the Graduate Theological Foundation. He received his Lutheran training at the Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia, S.C. Ordained in 1977, Delmer has served parishes in North Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee.

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