Summary: Money is not the solution to our lack of significance, purpose, joy, or love.
This morning I want to suggest something extremely radical, subversive, and even confrontational. It is a message our culture does not want you to hear. And although I won’t get arrested, and probably even won’t upset you by saying it because “on the surface” it will sound reasonable, none of us really live like this and if we were to try it would be extremely radical, subversive, and even confrontational.
Here is what I want to suggest: money is the single biggest killer of life. Now I don’t mean physical life though some may wish to make that case, I mean “life” in the sense of joy, of healthy inter-dependent relationship, acceptance, challenge, significance, purpose, and love. Money kills all those things that really matter, in the grand scheme.
You’ve maybe heard the story of the Mexican fisherman: An American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellow fin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.
The Mexican replied, "only a little while." The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish? The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs. The American then asked, "but what do you do with the rest of your time?"
The Mexican fisherman said, "I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos, I have a full and busy life."
The American scoffed, "I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat with the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually NYC where you will run your expanding enterprise."
The Mexican fisherman asked, "But, how long will this all take?" To which the American replied, "15-20 years." "But what then?" The American laughed and said that’s the best part. "When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions." "Millions.. Then what?"
The American said, "Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos."
I’m excited about today’s passage of Scripture – Acts 3:1-11. Here’s why: about a month and a half ago, I was going to preach on this passage of Scripture, sort of do a single sermon on it and then start a new series for us for this fall. But then I got into it, and started to read to the end of this story, and found that this one story is the subject of all of chapter 3 and chapter 4. And I realized reading backwards that the story only really makes sense after we’ve understood Acts 1 and 2, where Jesus ascends to heaven, and then the Holy Spirit comes at Pentecost, and then the church is born and begins to have an impact on the world. This story sets up those next steps:
Acts 3:1-11 (NLT):
Peter and John went to the Temple one afternoon to take part in the three o’clock prayer service. 2 As they approached the Temple, a man lame from birth was being carried in. Each day he was put beside the Temple gate, the one called the Beautiful Gate, so he could beg from the people going into the Temple. 3 When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for some money.
4 Peter and John looked at him intently, and Peter said, “Look at us!” 5 The lame man looked at them eagerly, expecting some money. 6 But Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!”
7 Then Peter took the lame man by the right hand and helped him up. And as he did, the man’s feet and ankles were instantly healed and strengthened. 8 He jumped up, stood on his feet, and began to walk! Then, walking, leaping, and praising God, he went into the Temple with them.