Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sunday Sermon Notes 9.20.09

Would you rule the world any different?

If all of a sudden you were bumped up another notch in the management chain of where you work - now you're given more authority and more responsibilities - would you be any different (any better?) than the person you just replaced?

It comes pretty natural to us to complain about whoever is the "boss" of us at work. It's easy to point out the things we'd do different if we were in charge. But what if you actually were given the chance to be in charge - would you do a better job at spending the money, making the schedule, handling conflict, giving promotions, handing out discipline, hiring and firing, etc?

Sometimes we like to think that if just given a chance, if just given some more authority, some more responsibilities, we could really make a difference in our workplace (or church, or whatever organization you are part of). We like to think that we could do a better job than "those" already in charge, and if we just had a shot at it, we could really make a difference.

But what about right now? What about the authority and responsibilities you do have now? What are you doing with the power and influence you do have for good and for God? Maybe the real issue is not what you would do with more power and influence, authority and power, but what you are doing right now with what you do have. If you're not doing much with what you have right now, what makes you think you'd do a better job with more?

You have authority over you - and you are responsible for yourself. How are you doing with that authority and responsibility - are you using yourself for good and for God now in a purposeful, meaningful way? You have power and influence over members of your family, over your friends, over your coworkers, over your neighbors, etc. How are you using that power and influence for good and for God? Are you working to be a blessing to them, or are you usually trying to find a way to use them for your own gain?

Jesus, in the three stories recorded back to back to back in Luke, are attempts by Jesus to point out how the religious and economic leaders of the nation were misusing their authority and responsibilities, their power and influence. He then makes a point to reveal how he uses his authority and responsibility, his power and influence. Who do you want to emulate?

The religious authorities use the Scriptures to support their nationalistic and violent desires for independence from Rome. Jesus undermines both their interpretation and their authority (and thus their power and influence). The religious leaders are also very much involved in the economy of the nation. They also seek honor, to climb the social-status ladder, and to gain prestige. Jesus reveals these arrogant and greedy motives for what they are - that is not how leaders are to use their authority and responsibilities.

And then Jesus points out the contrast between what the wealthy give to God and what a poor widow gives to God. The rich give out of their abundance - a strategic move, calculated to not hurt their bottomline. The widow gave everything she had, revealing her trust in God's willingness to provide for her. God wants leaders to use their authority and responsibility to lift up the widows, not devour their houses. God wants everyone to use their power and influence for the good of their neighbors and for God.

Whatever you have - give it all over for the work of God in this world. Don't make everything about you. Make a difference for good and for God in your world with the authority and responsibilities you currently have. It's more than enough.

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