The Scripture lessons for July 31, 2016 were Ecclesiastes 1:2, 12-14; 2:18-26; Colossians 3:1-11; and Luke 12:13-21. Pastor Woita focused his message on the Gospel lesson for the day. In his message I found Pastor Woita questioning me and challenging me to examine my relationship to or with my possessions. Questions I heard Pastor Woita ask me either explicitly or implicitly were:
- What gives me my identity?
- What or who is going to determine the values in and for my life?
In essence these questions are directly related to the first commandment – “You shall have no other gods” Exodus 20:3. That which gives me my identity and determines my values for all practical purposes has become my god. In the Luke 12:15 from the Gospel lesson for the day, Jesus instructs us: “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” He (Jesus) then goes on to tell a story about a rich man, who finding his identity in his possessions sought to build bigger barns, to accumulate his wealth and to indulge himself with his wealth only to learn that he would die that very night. This reflects the Old Testament lesson reflected in Ecclesiastes 1:2 “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.”
Instead of trying establish or find our identity in our possessions or our achievements the Apostle Paul in Colossians 3:1-2, the epistle lesson for the day, instructs us: “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”
I do not understand “things above” to be referring to a “place” or a “future reality” to be experienced and enjoyed after I physical die and am united with Christ in the “Parousia” (Second Coming). Paul continues in Colossians 3:3 “For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” Note the word “now.”
Focusing mind and heart on the things above is to focus on God Himself (see Hebrews 12:2 quoted below), and His work and His values (love and forgiveness (John 13:34-35; 1 Corinthians 13:13; 1 Corinthians 16:14). This focusing enables us to experience and share God, His presence, His love and His forgiveness as a present reality in which we can continue to grow.
Pastor Woita concluded his message with a challenge. He challenged us to examine our lifestyles and our relationship with our possession. Are we, am I, are you ready to accept the challenge:
- to examine our lifestyle and what it suggests/says about our beliefs and values?
- to examine our relationship with our possessions?
- to set our minds and hearts on things above?
Hebrews 12:1-2 (NIV) “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Chime in with your thoughts and questions in the comment section!