Jesus and the fiscal cliff
December 28, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Reading Jesus’ response to a man in an inheritance squabble made me think of the ever-closer fiscal cliff. To the man who wanted his brother to divide an estate, Jesus responded, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” (Luke 12:14) Would Jesus respond the same way if Boehner or Obama asked him for help? (On a personal note, I had to ask myself how Jesus would respond to child support disputes, rising costs of health insurance, or mission funding debates.)
We don’t know if the man’s case was legit, but we do know that Jesus used the opportunity to warn the crowd of the greatest danger to their soul.
The greatest danger isn’t poverty or the misappropriation of funds.
The greatest danger is greed in its varied forms (12:15).
Jesus goes on to tell a story about a man whose business does far and beyond what he expected (and it wasn’t due to his hard work – “The ground produced a good crop”). To protect his profits, he builds larger barns. Seems like good business sense. But what on the surface was responsible business was masking a deeper danger. Luke 12:19 says, “I’ll say to myself, ‘You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy, eat, drink, and be merry.’”
There’s a part of me that would love to be in a position to say this as well. But money can be dangerous to the soul.
The NIV isn’t as clear as other translations, but the man in the story isn’t simply talking to himself. What he literally says is, “I’ll say to my soul” or “I’ll say to my life, ‘You have many good things laid up for many years.’” In other words, “You won’t need to depend on God for many years. You’re set.” God responds using the same word. “This night your life will be demanded from you,” and “Do not worry about your life.“
I don’t believe Jesus condemns the man for having stuff. But he’s condemning the man for thinking the the stuff is life.
So what does this have to do with the fiscal cliff? I’m not convinced that the agenda of either the left or the right would be Jesus’ concern. He’d see a much deeper danger lurking in the debate. His concern should be mine.
My primary concern must be to “seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.” (Luke 12:31) So how do I know if I’m seeking his kingdom? (It’s easy to say, harder to do.)
- Do the wars between the left and right make me angry or afraid? Then I’m probably dangerously invested in them. “Do not be afraid …” (12:32)
- Am I living generously? “Sell your possessions and give to the poor.” (12:33)
- Am I giving more time to knowing my God than I am to supporting my political position? “Consider …” (12:24) and “Consider …” (12:27) What would my internet history reveal about the things I’m considering?
At the end of the day, this is a matter of faith (12:28) and the orientation of my heart (12:29). The danger is that I might not think it’s really that important.