“Open”! I am standing before a huge door – heavy timber, large bolts all over – completely locked – then as I look it swings open. There is Jesus – “I have opened the way for you – this is a new and living way – you are invited to enter through the ‘new and living Way which is my body – broken, my blood shed on the cross – you are invited’.”
I am taken by the hand and enter the most beautiful garden – gorgeous flowers, in superabundance – their perfume filling the air, my eyes are dazzled. He walks with me in the garden explaining – “I have shared many secrets of the kingdom with you – they are like these flowers – but even so there is much more which you still don’t understand – you see through a glass darkly now – but then you will see face to face and know everything, in the meantime, remember, I am not some distant deity who sits unapproachably on a throne – I want to walk with you in the garden and have continuous fellowship – not just at certain moments – I want to share your whole day with all your thoughts, all your fears, all your plans I want you to be my friend and I want you to be my bestie, your very best friend”.
My reading today is Luke 16:1-14. OK so this is one of those passages which you wish weren’t in the bible. At first reading it seems to suggesting that Jesus commended an obviously corrupt manager of a wealthy man’s possessions. This almost feels like this fits into the Zondo commission. While commentators either let it slide past with little comment or make a feast of all the possible meanings, let us just try and let Jesus explain it to us by looking carefully at what the text says.
The parable (it is NOT an allegory) ends at vs 8 and I think the key phrase is “dealing with their own kind“. The following explanation Jesus gives, focusses on the word ‘eternal’ in vs 9. There seems to be a comparison and a contrast here. The comparison is the word shrewd and the contrast is between the benefit that shrewdness will bring to the person. The dishonest manager is looking only to care for himself, which is the worldly way. The disciple (remember they are the audience cf vs 1) on the other hand should use shrewdness for eternal gain. There are other passages which suggest the reward we will receive for sharing with others is personal friendship in the hereafter.
Lest there be any suggestion that Jesus is commending dishonesty, the story in vv10 -12 shows how important it is for the disciple to be trustworthy. This in direct contrast to the untrustworthy manager. Notice the word “trust” or “trustworthy” is repeated 5 times and is sharply contrasted with “dishonest” twice.
So what is the underlying attitude the reader should have towards money? There is no room for compromise when it comes to money or possessions – you either love God or you love them. James speaks of a “double-minded man” in James 1:8. Which are your motivation for life? A good example of the wrong attitude towards money, follows in the story about the Pharisees and their attitude towards money and fame, in vs 14.
So what did I feel Jesus was saying to me? I need to carefully consider what my attitude is towards my possessions and money on an ongoing basis. What I have, is entrusted to me as part of the stewardship which God has entrusted to me. My use and management of it will demonstrate whether I can be trusted with more. I take that not necessarily to mean only money but everything God has given me. And it includes my study of the scriptures and use of the teaching gift I have.
So lets all be shrewd in the “Kingdom way” and make friends for ourselves in eternity.