All (2): Freedom

. 4 min read

Nov 2017, Christ Mountain Top
to Worship,
Psalm 126
Matthew 19.16-30
Matthew 6.18-34
Moment, Gary Shupp testimony
and my blood test – prying my fingers open
 The leech has two
daughters; “Give, give,” they cry.
      Bondage to fear, anxiety
      Living defensively
week, first half of the chapter:
      Spirituality is not about performance –
praying, fasting, giving
            “to be noticed” = Greek, theater
            “hypocrite” = Greek, actor
      Spirituality is not about manipulation or
            “they have been paid in full”
      Spirituality is about devotion to God
            Because God is devoted to us
week, second half of the chapter, specifically addressing connections between
wealth and anxiety, a very interesting nexus. There are four parts, which
Frederick Bruner describes as
            The two treasures
            The two eyes
            The two lords
            The two anxieties (Bruner, 319)
freedom in our seasonal themes: Thanks, Giving.

Thanks: The two eyes
      Not a lens, but a lamp!
      The power of our focus to determine our
moments & days
      Sometimes the focus is on what we do not
            On scarcity rather than abundance
K. Chesterton wrote, “There are two ways to have enough money: one is to
acquire more; the other is to desire less” (Bruner, 321).
salty meal
            Jesse – offer to trade, “inherently
generous” (D&B)
      Spiritual practice of giving thanks over
our meals is powerful!
Giving: two treasures, two lords
Treasures: Once
more in this gospel, Jesus uses the phrase “treasures in heaven”.  It comes in Matthew 19:16-22.  A rich young man comes to Jesus and asks,
“What must I do to have eternal life?” 
After a few moments of conversation, Jesus tells him, “If you want to be
perfect/mature, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and
you will have treasure in heaven”.
      To live out the values of the kingdom and
retain the title to stuff – no matter how much or how little we have – is much
more complicated.  If you give it all
away, there is no question where your treasure is.  Can you keep some, and not be tied to it?
      This is where the biblical teaching of the
tithe comes in.  Jesus typically focuses
on the fact that everything we have comes from God and belongs to God.  The larger biblical tradition offers tithing
– giving a tenth – as a practical way to consecrate everything to God, as a way
to live in the complicated situation of having stuff that really isn’t ours,
that really belongs to God.  “If the part
of the dough offered as first fruits is holy, the whole batch is holy” (Romans
11:16).  When we give God a portion, the
first portion, a significant portion, a tithe, we become able to hold the remaining
portion in trust for God.
Lords: God
or “Mammon”.  This section uses language
from the relationship of slave and master, or servant and master.  The word “Mammon”, a name used here for the
god of wealth, reminds us that wealth or property has a spiritual power.  There is no reference to how much or how
little we have, but a simple acknowledgment that too often our possessions – or
those we hope to possess – possess us.
      “Mammon” comes from the Hebrew root
“amen”.  “Amen” is not just a word that we
append to prayer, but a word for what we trust (Thayer).  Our money has a saying on it: “In God we
trust”.  That begs a very important
question: “Which god?  Wealth or
Jesus?”  Bruner translates this verse,
“You cannot possibly serve God and Gain”. 
John Chrysostom’s comment: When God says “not possible”, don’t you say
“possible” (Bruner, 325).
 He who did not withhold his
own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us
everything else?
      Promise of God’s extravagant
care.  God cares for us more than the
birds, and they eat a lot.  The purple
martin eats its weight in insects on a daily basis – 7000 mosquitoes a day!  A hummingbird drinks twice its weight in
nectar every day.  (See
).  God cares for us more than flowers,
and they are more extravagantly clothed than the most glorious royals or the
most beautiful brides.
root of our practice of gratitude is God’s extravagant generosity. The root of
our practice of generosity is God’s extravagant generosity. The root of our
entire spiritual life, and all our practices, is the gift of God in Jesus
      Commitment Sunday, spiritual practices (see
ministry guide)

      Poster board testimonies – mine