In America, we live in an “exceptional” culture. Even Jeep said it in a 2010 advertisement: “The things we make, make us.” And so, we are defined by things. Our identity is not the Crucified-Risen One, rather we are identified by stuff. As such, consumerism has run amuck. And even when not given to consumption, we make great effort to preserve our social standing by preserving our stuff.
Yet, sometimes our stuff gets in the way and prevents us from being the people we should be. But Jesus reminds us that all of this stuff – regardless of how grand and beautiful it might be…all of this stuff will be thrown down. All of this stuff will come to an end.
In this passage, the disciples struggled with Jesus’ message. Having become accustomed to being surrounded by spiritual groupies and enjoying the blessings of being Jesus’ closest disciples, they wanted to prevent the end. So, after Jesus had turned their worlds upside-down, the disciples were searching for something that would remain consistent.
Everything was going to change. Those everyone thought were entitled to inherit the Kingdom of God would see the Kingdom stripped away from them. Those who didn’t believe in a resurrection learned they were wrong, and those who did believe in resurrection learned that it was unlike anything they could imagine. The people everyone thought were being the most generous, Jesus declared to have given very little. No wonder that when the disciples left the Temple they are eager to find something that would not be torn down!
They want to hold on to what “was.” In verses 1-4 of this chapter, we find those who hold back in their giving. Both the disciples and the rich bringing their tithes were holding on and holding back for the same reasons: they hoped to prevent the end. Yet, Jesus’ is urging us to see that holding back will not prevent the end!
The United States of America is ranked in the top five across giving categories by the “World Giving Index.” That is good, in the abstract. Yet, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy we give a meager 2% of GDP!
Holding back will not prevent the end. But, why do we hold back? Why don’t we give more?
The answer to these questions are explored in this week’s sermon. What are your thoughts?