Friday, September 24, 2010

Jesus Saves Even Me

This morning I preached and shared God's gracious gift of the Lord's Supper at Cokato apartments building 1.  On the way over I picked up a bulletin from ELC/Cokato.  The scriptures for Sunday, Sep. 26 are:
    + Amos 6:1-7 (the lectionary omits verses 2-3)
    + Psalm 146
    + First Timothy 6:6-19
    + Luke 16:19-31
I suggest you take a look at those scriptures before reading on.

God is very concerned about issues of wealth and poverty.  Someone has said that there is more about economics in the Bible than about sexuality.  I'm not sure if that is true, but those who want to ignore God's concern for the economically oppressed are really not believing or reading their Bibles very carefully.  Amos, First Timothy and Luke carry God's WARNING against those of us who want to be comfortably ignorant of how the poor are exploited.  Even though it makes us squirm, you and I are the rich man in Jesus' Luke 16 parable.

We may not see the desperately poor begging on our doorstep, but they are there.  We're just isolated, or, as Karl Marx would say, "alienated" from the "means of production." (The "means of production" in today's world are often poor people.  If you doubt that, look at the labels on your clothing to see where it was made.  Or think about those who pick most of the fruits and vegetables it is good for us to eat.  Comedian Stephen Colbert's take on this was presented to congress today.)

God calls us to repent of our economic sins and receive the gift of God's grace.  And God's grace is intended to turn our hearts outward, to care deeply and passionately for those who do not have enough.

By his sacrificial life and death for us, Jesus crosses the chasm to bring us God's love, though we do not deserve it.  Amazing grace.  Even a rich wretch like me can be saved!  Wow.

Now--there are hints in scripture that Jesus cares so much for the poor and oppressed that they may just be welcomed into his eternal glory without any explicit faith in Him.  He's still the only way, but I can't limit his love--love that I see especially in the Gospels.  You can't read, for example, Luke's version of Jesus so-called "Sermon on the Mount" (Luke 6:20-26) together with the gospel assigned for this Sunday without letting that thought cross your mind.  But the only assurance or security we can have is through trusting Jesus as our Lord and Savior.  That's the only way we can KNOW that we or others can be saved.  So we always bring the good news of Jesus to people no matter how rich or poor they are.  And we pray that all will come to trust in Him as their personal savior and be born again.

If this little teaching brings questions to your mind, or if you want to challenge me, please let me know.

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