Monday, October 20, 2014

What Matters to God

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so no one may boast.  For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them.  Ephesians 2:8-10

But God said to him, ‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’  Thus will it be for the one who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich in what matters to God.”  Luke 12:20-21

"From generations of soldiers and government officials on my father's side I inherited a belief that no life was more satisfactory than one of selfless service to your country - or humanity. This service required a sacrifice of all personal interests, but likewise the courage to stand up unflinchingly for your convictions. From scholars and clergymen on my mother's side, I inherited a belief that, in the very radical sense of the Gospels, all men were equals as children of God, and should be met and treated by us as our masters in God."  (Dag Hammarskj√∂ld, second Secretary-General, United Nations).

What matters to God? 

Luke contrasts people whose focus and trust is on material possessions (depicted by the rich fool of the parable) with those who recognize their complete dependence on God (depicted by the reference to those whose radical detachment from material possessions symbolizes their heavenly treasure).
What matters?  That goes without saying.  When it comes to treasure and possessions, Jesus has only one answer about what matters: 

“Sell your belongings and give alms. Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven that no thief can reach nor moth destroy.  For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.” (Luke 12:33–34).    

“For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.”  Are we too worried about growing bigger barns to hold our bigger IRA/ROTH/401K accounts?  Are we too worried about building bigger houses to store our furniture, electronics, food, and possessions?  Are we too worried about building bigger garages to store our SUVs and Mini Coopers, our Toyotas and our Fords, our motorcycles and our boats?

The more we have, the more we want to protect it.  Is it any wonder that a recent article in the Chronicle of Philanthropy found that during the last recession, those will less helped more?  Research shows that the rich pitched in less.

Vox reported on the empathy gap research:  “Even during the downturn and recovery, the poorest Americans upped their charitable giving. Meanwhile, the highest-income people gave less and less.  The rich also give to charity differently than the poor: compared to lower-income Americans, the rich's charitable giving places a far lower emphasis on helping their disadvantaged peers. When the poor and rich are (figuratively and literally) moving farther apart, an empathy gap naturally opens up between the upper and lower classes — after all, if I can't see you, I'm less likely to help you.”

Now, we also are worried about things which – comparatively speaking – may not affect many of us.  Some have pointed out that we are more likely to get sick from influenza rather than Ebola/hemorrhagic fever.  However, our worry may have also clouded our propensity to act. 

That worry does not have to remain the status quo.  The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has a list of 58 organizations working on the West Africa Ebola Virus.
The government agency notes: “As relief and recovery efforts evolve, these organizations tailor their work to meet the changing needs of people and communities. Monetary donations enable responding organizations to react with speed and specificity in critical sectors now and as communities recover. Even a small donation can have great impact. Monetary donations save lives and money.”

Now you can do more than just worry. 

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