September 29, 2019 Sermon
"When is Enough, Enough?"
Old Testament Scripture: Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15
The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD in the tenth year of King Zedekiah of Judah, which was the eighteenth year of Nebuchadrezzar. At that time the army of the king of Babylon was besieging Jerusalem, and the prophet Jeremiah was confined in the court of the guard that was in the palace of the king of Judah, 3awhere King Zedekiah of Judah had confined him.
Jeremiah said, The word of the LORD came to me: Hanamel son of your uncle Shallum is going to come to you and say, "Buy my field that is at Anathoth, for the right of redemption by purchase is yours." Then my cousin Hanamel came to me in the court of the guard, in accordance with the word of the LORD, and said to me, "Buy my field that is at Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, for the right of possession and redemption is yours; buy it for yourself." Then I knew that this was the word of the LORD.
And I bought the field at Anathoth from my cousin Hanamel, and weighed out the money to him, seventeen shekels of silver. I signed the deed, sealed it, got witnesses, and weighed the money on scales. Then I took the sealed deed of purchase, containing the terms and conditions, and the open copy; and I gave the deed of purchase to Baruch son of Neriah son of Mahseiah, in the presence of my cousin Hanamel, in the presence of the witnesses who signed the deed of purchase, and in the presence of all the Judeans who were sitting in the court of the guard. In their presence I charged Baruch, saying, Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Take these deeds, both this sealed deed of purchase and this open deed, and put them in an earthenware jar, in order that they may last for a long time. For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Houses and fields and vineyards shall again be bought in this land.
Scripture: 1 Timothy 6:6-19
Of course, there is great gain in godliness combined with contentment; for we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it; but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.
But as for you, man of God, shun all this; pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life, to which you were called and for which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. In the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you to keep the commandment without spot or blame until the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will bring about at the right time-he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords. It is he alone who has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see; to him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.
As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life.
Sermon: "When is Enough, Enough?"
You know, sometimes the problems of this world seem overwhelming. Disease, poverty, homelessness, hunger, it can seem that there is too much to do, too many to feed. And there is simply not enough money.
I know that when Karen and I are approached by people in need at church, sometimes we have to remember that we simply can’t help everyone, that our resources have limits, and that there are other churches and charities in town that can also step in and help.
But it’s hard to see someone in pain, someone in trouble, and not be ale to help them. It’s hard to think of that one person in need, and multiply that by thousands, by millions. It’s overwhelming.
For one person. For one church. It’s overwhelming.
But I wonder if the problem isn’t so much that we don’t have the time or the money to address some of society’s ills, but rather, we haven’t made it a priority of society. We think of the problem as one that we have to solve individually, by ourselves. We don’t think of it as a problem that can be solved best by all of us at once.
And because we don’t think of it as a societal problem, we don’t approach it as a societal problem, and we don’t put our resources to the best use. We forget that that when Jesus has just a little bit to work with, just some bread, just a couple of fish, he can work miracles.
And we forget that. We forget that with Jesus, there is enough.
And along with this hyperactive individualism, this unwillingness to address societal problems as a society, we are sick.
There is a pernicious illness some have called affluenza, a disease that causes us to always be wanting more, more money, more things, more stuff, more stature, more fame, more success, more of what we see on the Instagram accounts of other people, more of what we see on TV, more, more, more, more, more.
More is addictive. I was struck by a recent truck commercial where the tailgate has 6 different ways that it can be put down. A recent review called it great gadget to have, even if it is completely unnecessary. And for those who want even more, and who doesn’t want even more? the tailgate can be fitted with Bluetooth speakers, because I remember growing up picking rocks, that I wished I had some Bluetooth speakers in the tailgate of the truck.
More is where it’s at. We want more. And it’s making us sick.
And our society is doubly sick because we have not only come to accept without question that more is better, we also think that less is bad. It’s so axiomatic that more is better, that we don’t question it. Of course more is better. It’s simply better.
And our economy depends on us believing that more is better. The stock market depends on us striving to get more. Bigger houses, better cars, more money. The idea of more is better is an integral part of how we think of ourselves, the way we measure our own value. We lift up the idea of ‘more’ as a virtue, and to question the validity of ‘more is better’ is to question the American dream itself.
Recycling is almost seen as unpatriotic. Reusing, re purposing are words that hippies use. When McDonald’s wants to do a facelift on a franchise, they tear down the whole thing, and build it from scratch. More, bigger, louder, faster, brighter, newer, we don’t stop to think why these might be better, we just assume that they are. It’s a given.