Through the Bible in a Year – April 19

The Scheme for March – April can be found here

Jos 1-3; 1 Tim 5-6; Psalm 129-131

‘Those who want to be rich fall into a trap . . .’

The desire to be wealthy is almost universal and yet it is deceitful, for it is founded upon a deceit from the Father of lies – that we can secure a life for ourself. The life we secure for ourself is no life at all, for it is the rejection of the life that is given. It leads to ultimate loneliness. Thus Jesus when he meets the Rich man counsels him to give up the life he has made for himself. To share in Life with the company of disciples

However much we may wish to ‘spiritualise’ Jesus’ words and plain teaching on worldly wealth, and we have all tried one way or another – it comes back to us over and over. Woe to you who are rich now – for you have received your reward. This is the material counterpoint to Jesus’ counsel over our spiritual practices. If we do them publicly then we get our reward. We get what we seek. So if we seek security in this life we will find it.

But the life we make for ourselves ends with the death of our body, and then we discover it is all we have.

Of course this isn’t to say that there are wonderful riches to be had in this life having given our self construction project up in favour of the Life that comes fom above, that is Gift. Peter tells Jesus – look what we have given up – and Jesus’ reply to him is ‘Open your eyes – behold the riches of life shared with so many who have heard my voice’

As so often it comes back to what does it mean to be the people of God – that is the Church. That is Shared Life – Life in abundance – a life we discover when we come together, not as individuals but as Christ’s body – as great a challenge as that of letting go of our wealth.

Through the Bible in a year – April 7

The Scheme for March – April can be found here

Deut 7-9; Phil 3; Psalm 119:33-48

Do not say to yourself, ‘My power and the might of my own hand have gained me this wealth.’

But how often we do.

The plain fact of the matter is this, that most of us who read, and indeed I who write, these words are affluent, and over and over the Scriptures warn us of the perils of wealth. And the primary warning is found here in Deuteronomy – that we begin to believe that we are the creators of our own life. Wealth gives us ‘power’ to build the lives we want – to avoid community and the necessity that that brings. It gives us the ‘power’ to choose- and as our deep story tells us, as humans we do not choose well.

The question is this, though, if we have not gained what we have by our efforts – how have we gained it? If we did not get it ourselves, then to whom does it really belong.

Yesterday we read that most beautiful Christological hymn, that God is Kenotic, self emptying – the riches of the Life of God are poured out – he becomes nothing. If we have wealth, then perhaps if we are made in his image, truly we best reveal this to be true in not calling anything our own, not ‘grasping’ or holding on to it, but allowing it to flow freely for the good of all. As St John says, ‘We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help?  Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. And by this we will know that we are from the truth and will reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.’

The Word of the Primal Sin is ‘Mine!’ – to live by the Spirit is to say ‘Yours and yours and yours and yours’ For NOTHING we have by right have we except by God’s Grace – we are all invited to live in that Grace, in deed.