Summary: How to have the full life Jesus promises and steps along the journey.
“Give Everything. Period.”
By: Rev. Kenneth Emerson Sauer,
Pastor of Parkview United Methodist Church, Newport News, VA
What if, at the beginning of our lives, someone were to come to us and say: “Would you like to have a completely satisfying time during your short stay on earth?
Would you like to be guaranteed that, when you come to the end of your life, you will have no regrets, no horrible shame, no large spaces of wasted time, no feelings of… ‘Oh, If I’d only done it this way!’”
We’d most likely say, “Yes, yes I would.”
And if this ‘someone’ asked us if we wanted to know the secret to this ‘successful living’ we would most likely be eager to say, “Yes!”
As many of you are aware, I am currently taking a course at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital called Clinical Pastoral Education.
We spend 4 hours a week in a classroom setting and 8-10 hours a week doing Chaplain duty in the hospital.
This will last until April.
So far, I have spent much of my time in the Hospice unit of the hospital.
This is a very nice facility, where, veterans are sent once they have been diagnosed with a terminal illness and are not expected to live very much longer.
As my new friend John, who is a patient there, says: “This is the last stop.”
One thing I find fascinating at this particular setting is the content of the dialogue in which I become engaged in with the patients.
It seems that all these people want to talk about is Jesus Christ, the Bible, and heaven.
Now, this is unusual because during most hospital visits I’ve made in the past, the patients normally talk about their illness, their anxiety over the coming surgery, looking forward to getting back to the regular routine, and so forth.
But at the hospice at the VA, the patients talk about God…for them, there is no ‘getting better and getting back to life as usual.’
As John says, “This is the last stop.”
And the next stop is to be in God’s hands, and these people are getting ready for it.
John is a Christian, but he hasn’t always been a Christian.
At seventy years old, John became a Christian…oh, maybe five years ago.
I believe it happened soon after he learned he was sick.
Often John will say to me, “I’m so glad that there is a young person who is living for God when there are so many other things you could be doing.”
He says things like, “I spent my life cheating on my wives, drinking, etc. I wish I had become a Christian earlier. I wish I had given my life to Jesus Christ earlier. There’s a lot of things I’m not proud that I’ve done. There’s a lot of wasted years.”
I tell John that he’s now forgiven, and he knows that.
Recently we talked about the parable of the Land Owner who paid all the workers the same wage no matter how long they had worked.
“Yeah, everybody gets paid the same. Ain’t that something,” John said in praise of God’s incredible grace.
Then I asked John, “You must have some good memories from your life?”
John replied, “Yeah, some good. Lot’s of bad, but some good.”
“Well, just try to think about the good ones,” I said.
Jesus Christ talks a lot about what is truly important in life; about what will give our lives meaning and substance.
He says Himself: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
What does this mean, and how can we have life to the full?
Let’s keep this question in mind as we take a look at our Gospel Lesson for this morning.
As Jesus sat down near the temple treasury where people were making their donations He watched the crowd.
He saw a whole lot of rich people come throw huge amounts of money into the receptacles or what we would call ‘offering plates’.
Why was Jesus sitting there? Why was He watching these people. Why did He have His disciples so close at hand…watching this event?
I suppose there may very well have been a lot of people who were being entertained by watching what people put into the treasury.
“Wow, look what that guy donated.”
“Ooh, she must really be rich in order to afford to give that much.”
“Aw, he must really be devoted to God. Look at his gift.”
But this doesn’t seem to impress Jesus much.
As usual…Jesus finds true meaning where most of us miss it.
While everyone else’s attention is focused on the rich people and who brings in the biggest offering…
…Jesus’ attention is focused on the same thing, but from a different angle.