Summary: The final sermon in the Living in Christ sermon series - this one works from the point of our riches found in Christ Jesus.
Concordia Lutheran Church
Pentecost 10, Aug. 1, 2010
Living Rich in…Christ
Colossian 3:1-11 ,Ecc. 1 and Luke 13:13-21
† In Jesus Name †
My brothers and sisters in Christ, as you set your view, and your life’s direction on things above, may you realize the rich freedom you have in Christ, freed from those things which are vain and without value!
The Struggle of Futility
Futile, meaningless, senseless, pointless, of no purpose the modern translations use, to explain this word vanity. It is so pictured in the life of the gospel story rich man, whose life was dedicated to building and building so he could rest in retirement, only to die without ever enjoying it at all.
Solomon’s words are so descriptive of life today, life without God, spent chasing after the gods of this world, of this time. Hear them again, a bit differently this time. Your notes page has them from a modern Bible called “the Message”,
17 I hate life. As far as I can see, what happens on earth is a bad business. It's smoke—and spitting into the wind. 18 And I hated everything I'd accomplished and accumulated on this earth. I can't take it with me—no, I have to leave it to whoever comes after me. 19 Whether they're worthy or worthless—and who's to tell?—they'll take over the earthly results of my intense thinking and hard work. [ It is all ] Smoke. 20 That's when I called it quits, gave up on anything that could be hoped for on this earth. 21 What's the point of working your fingers to the bone if you hand over what you worked for to someone who never lifted a finger for it? Smoke, that's what it is. A bad business from start to finish. 22 So what do you get from a life of hard labor? 23 Pain and grief from dawn to dusk. Never a decent night's rest. Nothing but smoke.
Ecclesiastes 2:17-23 (MSG)
In view of this life, I refer you to the title of our sermon, “We are living rich,…. In Christ”. As I look at our world, I am more than convinced that we are rich, for what we have, unlike the treasure of this world is not futire, it is not meaningless, it is not pointless, it has purpose, and it is not vanity.
The reason? The selection from Paul’s epistle expresses it so clearly, “Christ is all, and in all.
Practices caused by vain things…by setting your mind on earthly things
The parable about the man who built a worldly kingdom, is told in reaction to a story that could easily be heard today. A man, who feels cheated by his brother, asks Jesus to step in, to make his brother do what is right. I’ve heard this a few times, and in all honesty, I’ve thought it, as a child with a older brother, and as one who wonders sometime why life doesn’t seem all that fair.
We don’t like it when the world is unfair by our own standards, we don’t like it when we don’t get our own way. Even though we would say that money, or pleasure or things aren’t what we are about, if someone has something we deserve, or if someone would try to take that which we consider ours, we get a bit…frustrated. Even more frustrated when we consider how hard we worked, like Solomon, and yet don’t gain that which we want, or when we have to watch others get the reward for our hard work.
When frustration sets in, when we realize that our goals have been defeated, far too often our attitude is to desire an escape, a chance to forget the failure, to avoid facing that things didn’t work out the way we desire. That our working our fingers to the bone is futile and stressful and hard, and it all to often seems to go up in smoke. It is these escapes that end up being so well described by Paul as the self-destructive behaviors of the world.
The world engages is idolatry all too often, and most of the time, the idol at first seems to be self. Look at the list Paul says to kill off, and those things we are to avoid. The things that are common and earthly, that seek to satisfy the simplistic animal nature that some call pleasurable. Sexual Immorality, we get the word pornographic from this – because pornography isn’t about the medium, but the practices pictured. Impurity – or filthiness – the concept there is the opposite of cleaning a wound, of cauterizing it. The impure things that cause rot and decay and stench, which is why a wound needs cauterization.. The next, word, “passion”, is those things which by their very nature capture us, cause us to be addicted to a behavior or substance. Covetousness is the last of those things to put to death, because greed does cause us to forget those very things with which God has blessed us.