Sermon on May 16, 2021
KaB FKB (Volker Aßmann)
STANDARDS THAT CHALLENGE
19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth,
where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven,
where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt,
and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
22 The light of the body is the eye:
if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.
23 But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness.
If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!
24 No man can serve two masters:
for either he will hate the one, and love the other;
or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other.
Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
1. What is really safe and what remains?!
I still remember the statement made by our Chancellor and the Minister of Finance during the 2008/2009 financial crisis: “Your savings are safe!” That was a promise that probably prevented an acute bank collapse in our country. But what is really certain?
Jesus tells us: “Do not collect riches (treasures) here on earth, where moths and rust eat them up and where thieves break in and steal them!”
How current is the Sermon on the Mount and the whole Bible! Which bank is safe? Which deposit protection for savings is sufficient? And what if the state were broke? What remains? Beware of the stock hype and the real estate bubble!
More and more people are frightened and full of worry.
What is our story heading towards? To the chaos and the downfall? What message do we as Christians have for the people of our time?
No – we are not living towards chaos, but towards the coming Lord of all lords. We expect the salvation that is already there, but will then be visible to all.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1: 3-5)
Faith in Jesus, as the Bible teaches, is a faith with assured hope. On this faith and that means above all that you can rely on this Lord. Our home is already heaven, even if we are not there yet. There lies our inheritance, secured and given by Almighty God. Jesus tells us:
“God’s bank” alone is safe !! There are no moths and rust and no thieves! But here, too, the question is justified: Who will vouch for it? The Bible’s answer to this important question is: God and His power (and it is unlimited )! Heb. 6: 18-20: “This hope (in the home with God) is our refuge; it is a sure and firm anchor for our life, which brings us to the innermost part of the heavenly Sanctuary connects, the space behind the curtain (where only God is, i.e. directly with God). There Jesus preceded us as a pioneer … “
What really remains? This question is existential for our life today, and especially in the crises of our life and especially when it comes to our last way of dying.
Faith in Jesus as taught in the Bible means:
I am already firmly anchored today and with God himself. My anchor is thrown and gives me stability and security, just like a ship in the water. And I did not throw the anchor, which is not made of Krupp steel, but indestructible, but Jesus Christ took this anchor with him for me and everyone who trusts HIM. Where? Straight to god! And there Jesus guarantees us security for all days of our lives and beyond our lives, forever. This is a multiple security:
anchored in God.
Secured by Jesus, God’s Son himself.
With material that nothing and nobody can destroy!
That should be our hope and our message, even when crises come!
- The oil crisis of the 1970s has almost been forgotten.
- The impending nuclear war in the 1960s and 1970s
- The 2008 financial crisis.
And now we are living in the time of the corona pandemic. The message of Christians and churches should not be speculation, not even about the end times, nor criticism of current measures and politics, which are and were certainly not without faults. Instead, we should pray for the actors in our state and sow hope! Our message is:
There is a security, a refuge, a sure hope, namely with and through Jesus Christ alone. And that applies to every situation in our life and also to all crises. This is also our unique selling point and the only attractive message that we can give to our fellow human beings – and I say: Yes, I want to live for it. I want to do this again.
This topic of today’s sermon text about property and security is at least as relevant today as it was then. Our society is far too much about profit and profit maximization, where people often fall behind. And it is (presumably for almost everyone) about security through material things. And Jesus takes the needs of our everyday life very seriously and teaches us to pray: “Give us today our daily bread!” We have to keep in mind that wealth is only a question of comparison. And Christians are not allowed to talk about it below a certain salary limit. Compared to You are at least 2/3 of the world’s population and I am rich. So the question applies to all of us: What do I put my confidence in and what is my treasure that my heart depends on? And that applies to people with a lot and little money. We’ll come back to that in a moment.
But what does Jesus mean by that: “Rather, gather yourselves treasures in heaven …!” Yes, we are given heaven through faith in Jesus. But can we still earn something from God? Is what Jesus gives us not enough?
With Oswald Sanders I found this very interesting and challenging sentence: “God wants to bring us to a heaven that we ourselves have abundantly endowed with everything we have sent ahead.” And Sanders quotes from the Koran: “When a person dies, people ask how much he has left behind, but the angels ask how much he has sent ahead.” No, believing in Jesus is not about earning heaven, and neither can a person, a Christian, a Muslim, or whatever anyone believes in. Only Jesus is the way to eternal life, and it is and remains a gift of His love.
Again Oswald Sanders: “How do you get a treasure in heaven?” > Everything we do for God and His kingdom brings about the treasure in heaven. Every act of our hands, every thought, every word for spreading the gospel is saved by God, every kindness, every compassionate act, every gift that we use for God’s cause. This also includes the things that we seem to do without success. “
Jesus says it like this: “Whatever you did for one of my brothers, you did it for me!” (Matthew 25:40)
For example a person who found Jesus through you or me. Or a child who, because of our donations, does not starve to death in Madagascar, for example. Or through your donations, which enable a missionary somewhere on earth to serve people and invite them to a life with Jesus.
Jesus compares this to a deposit into an account at an absolutely crisis-proof bank in heaven with God. And God does not have a “zero interest policy”, but Jesus says that everything we invest in money, time and energy out of love for God and people will be treasure with God in heaven.
Jesus is not concerned with the fulfillment of duty and also not with acting out of fear or pressure, but with our passion. Where our treasure is, there is also our heart and where our heart is, we like to give and serve. I firmly believe that one day God will ask us about 2020 and 2021, as he did about all other times in our Christian life:
What have you done in God to serve people to help build the kingdom and church and for people to get to know our treasure in heaven, namely Jesus Christ?
If I live on this foundation of the treasure in heaven, the relationship with Jesus and faith in HIM, then it is quite normal that I want as many people as possible to experience just that and to get to know Jesus and be saved. That means: seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matthew 6:33)
In all of this, Jesus has nothing against the fact that we deal carefully and responsibly with our lives and also with money. In fact, it is biblical to make healthy provisions for old age or sickness. (2.Cor.12.14 and 1.Tim.5,8). But with all of this it is crucial that we know: It is much more important to provide for eternity and to believe in Jesus than to be well protected from a human point of view. And if we ourselves have eternal life through Jesus forever, then we should be generous with our time, strength and money for other people and for God’s kingdom!
In Greek we find a play on words: “Don’t make your treasures (your possessions) not to treasures!”
The danger is not in having money, but when the money has us. And that also applies to other things we believe we have, such as health, success, reputation … Luther put it this way: ‘What a person loves is his God. Because he carries it in his heart, he moves it Day and night in himself, he sleeps with him and watches with him, be it what it is: wealth or money, pleasure or honor. (Martin Luther)
This is what Jesus means when he decides to either trust and serve God or Mammon, the Aramaic word for money and property.
The biblical understanding of money and possessions and all of life is that of a steward. What we have doesn’t actually belong to us, but is loaned to us. Christians should be ready to share. One reason for such a wise and wise life, investing in “God’s bank” is also the danger of moths, rust and thieves, so says Jesus. Today Jesus would probably still see inflation, a stock market crash and the like. to lead. At that time, these were the usual investments: harvesting, grain or the like (as with the foolish grain farmer) that can be destroyed by animals or fire, valuable clothing that the moths eat at some point, or precious stones that were hidden in the earth, or Money that was hidden at home. And that’s not safe from thieves.
Again Oswald Sanders:
“Earthly wealth is passing away. Different values apply in eternity.
Death is certain to us and shrouds have no pockets.
Those who are busy increasing their wealth have neither time nor thoughts left for God.
In the end, it is always the case that wealth rules us instead of serving us. “(Oswald Sanders)
2. From cross-eyed and other two-prongedness
“Christians with healthy eyes and no vision problems see everything in the right proportions. Vision-impaired Christians see things blurry, crooked, and wrong. You see spiritually twice. “(Sanders)
This is about: wanting treasures in heaven or on earth. Reputation with God or with people as a motivation for our life. The divided gaze, the squint in the spiritual sense, brings the temptation to serve two masters, namely God and (here) money. Back then there were slaves who could not live a job sharing, like today, where people have or even have to have two jobs, for example. Hence the sentence of Jesus, who did not use it to speak beautifully about slavery, is: “Nobody can be the slave of two masters.”
We have to choose, everyone has to. Where our treasure is, that is also our heart, either with God (through Jesus) or in possession, pleasure, honor, recognition … With the word “Mammon” Jesus is referring to a total claim to possession, through something that God takes this place in our life, no matter what it may be. Perhaps the best-known example of this is related by Jesus himself:
Jesus met a rich man who asked about the way to God and eternal life. He lived an exemplary religious and moral life and asked Jesus: “What am I still missing?” (Matt. 19:20) Jesus answered him: 16 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? 17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. 18 He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, 19 Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 20 The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? 21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. 22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. (Matth. 19,16-22)
No, Jesus is not concerned with the fact that people who follow HIM are not allowed to have property. But the young man decided what his treasure was and remained, namely his property, and therefore he was lost and without eternal life. He kept his visual impairment for what really counts and lasts. He didn’t want Jesus to be Lord and Savior of his life.
Oswald Sanders closes this section in a very challenging way:
Who makes his money usable for spreading the gospel (and it is certainly not about all the money, and not only about money but also about time and strength of life), will not be alone in heaven. Everyone is waiting for him (in heaven) who were also able to find their way to God because he did not (only) live for himself, but had exchanged earthly values for eternal ones.
Jesus is not concerned with our bank statements or our appointment calendars, but with our hearts. What does our heart beat for? What do we live for The answer to these questions shows where our treasure is in our life!