Trinity 9 2012

Trinity 9
Luke 16:1-9
2012-08-05

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, X and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

St. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians chapter 9, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.  25 And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.  26 Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air.  27 But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.”

At this time of the Olympics, of political jostling for the presidency, and of economic turmoil, those who are dedicated to their professions are rising to the top. During heavy competition there are no free loaders in success. There are no accidental gold medals, presidential elections, or successful business men. They achieve their deserts by hard work and dedication. And high and lasting success doesn’t happen over night.

U.S. Olympians are groomed from an early age. They have natural born abilities and in most cases natural born bodily features that cause them to rise to the top of their sport. Early are they recognized for their potential and given the best coaches, the best nutrition, the best physical training that money can buy. They add to their natural gifts a spirit and soul for winning. They devote themselves to hours and hours of training per day, every week, every month, every year, until they reach their goal. Many are willing to sacrifice everything—their bodies, their families, their future after the sport all for that moment of glory.

Presidential candidates are very much the same. They have natural born personalities for drawing people to themselves. They have been groomed and educated in the sciences of politics, economics, industry, and communication. They eat, drink, sleep, and breath politics. Some are willing to sacrifice their families, their friends, their morals, their religion to make it to the top.

And I don’t even have to describe what the business man is willing to sacrifice or the lengths that he or she will go to in order to achieve success in power or riches.

It may seem like I have described the Olympian, the politician, and the businessman in somewhat disparaging terms, but really, I’m impressed. Like the character of Batman, they devote themselves to a goal, to an ideal, to achieving something they hold the highest in their life. And they pursue it with all of their being.

That is what Jesus is upholding in the parable this morning. The parable of the unjust steward is about prudence and dedication. Jesus is not condoning cheating your boss out of his possessions, to be sure. Rather He commends the manner in which this manager goes about preservation and future security. The children of this world are more shrewd than the children of light.

You, O child of light, have something to learn from the movers, shakers, and champions in this world. But instead of learning the lessons, you try to mimic the lifestyle. Instead of applying the principles to the one thing needful, you only look out for number one. They present themselves as better looking, more popular among their friends, happier, and more comfortable. And you long for their looks, their money, comfort, and their fame. Your Facebook page, your thoughts, your actions, and your words betray you. If people could read your thoughts and understand your motives, you would never be able to live down the shame of your pursuit money, toys, fame, and sex. How easily you are turned from your heavenly prize of the world to come to an illusionary earthly reward only seen online and in movies. You make friends for yourself by unrighteous mammon alright, but only through lies, deception, and personal gain. You use your wife, your children, your parents, and your friends for selfish purposes, snapping at them and holding grudges when they don’t bend to every whim of your will. You detach yourself from them when they don’t fulfill your every desire.

This parable is about prudence and dedication, about preservation and security, and so it convicts you of where your heart, your riches, and your desires really lie.

But just like the parable of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost (prodigal) son, in the chapter before, this parable is about the generosity of your heavenly Father. It’s about the shrewdness and dedication of Christ, the heavenly manager. To understand Christ’s parables we must first find the divine actor and divine actions. In most cases we can see both Jesus and His Father at work in the characters of the men and women. In other cases it is either Jesus or the Father, but it is always about heaven and the uniqueness of God’s mercy and grace. The shepherd searches for His sheep, the woman hunts for Her coin, the father longs for His son to return, the rich man lends with ridiculous generosity, and the steward is occupied with preservation and future security. However, unlike you, Jesus is obsessed with your preservation and your future security.

Jesus recognized how desperate your spiritual situation was and wagered all to make preparations for your eternal preservation and heavenly security. Before the creation of the world, Jesus was preparing and dedicating himself for the big event. The divine strategy was for God to become man. Christ was so shrewd that the deceiver was deceived. The cross was the biggest upset the world has ever witnessed. The debts were cleared when death gave way to life, when the cross gave way to an empty tomb, when Good Friday led to Easter. The death of God led to your life. By His victory, you share in the heavenly spoils. He makes you a partaker in His triumph. He takes you from being a child of this world whose sole focus is temporal success and comfort to being a child of light, who now  has eternal hopes and promises. Everything around us now is fair game not for our selfish pleasure, but for our eternal souls and for our neighbors. Money, possessions, talents, and our health are in service to God. God uses everything, even you, for His divine strategy. You are not some pawn in His game, but the prize for which He strove. He dedicated every thing in heaven and earth to your salvation, to winning you back from your own sins. He has set His glory above the heavens. It is finished. The victory is His. Blessed are you who fear the Lord. Come and share in His victory feast.

 

In Jesus’ X Name. Amen.

 

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