Summary: Do we focus on ourselves or Do we focus on God?

“Magic Eye” pictures

You and I have seen them in the Sunday comics and on book counters,

These pictures look like a mess of colored dots and lines.

Supposedly, if you stare at one long enough

a picture will emerge.

People either see it or they don’t.

Those who see it, … are thrilled.

The images appear three-dimensional.

It’s as if the picture is jumping out at you.

No matter how long I stare,

I cannot come up with the image.

My son would say, “Stop looking so hard.


How can you relax when everyone seems to be seeing something

and you can’t!

Supposedly it has to do with focusing.

If you stop looking at the dots and the lines

and focus on the whole image at one time,

then you will be able to see what is “hidden”.

The lesson for today is about focus,

about how we look at our lives.

Jesus suggests that his followers can see the world (and themselves)

differently than other people do.

It’s not a magic trick.

It’s a question of focus.

Where is our focus in life? on ourselves or on God?

The lesson suggests that we need to be focusing on God

And that focus doesn’t come automatically either.

It’s a perspective we must be encouraged to adopt,

one that we may be inclined to abandon

unless we are continually re-encouraged to adopt it again.

Paul calls it being heavenly-minded.

“set your minds on things that are above”

Jesus calls it being “rich toward God”.

It involves seeing through the clutter of our lives.

It involves seeing God in the clutter.

The man in Jesus’ parable of the rich fool

is one who sets his mind on earthly things,

rather than seeking the things that are above.

Note the 6 “I’s” and the 5 “my’s” in the story

There is no sense of God’s presence, God’s help,

no sense of the need to help others,

or a sense of gratitude for what God and others have done in his life.

Only “I’s” and “my’s”.

The lesson from Colossians describes this man’s focus: Greed!

I read a story about a young man

who one day accidentally found a $10.00 bill.

This “really made his day.”

In fact, he was so enamored about the unexpected good fortune

that from then on, he spent a lot of time with his eyes to the ground

while he was walking.

He never again found much money, but after 40 years,

here’s a partial list of what he found:

29,516 buttons

54,172 pins

7 pennies

a bent back and a miserly disposition

At the same time,

he lost the glories of the sunlight,

the smiles of friends, the songs of the birds,

the beauty of the flowers and trees, and blue skies

We can get lost in the earthly

if we focus our lives on ourselves, possessions, on getting and having.

The power of the parable lies in what it doesn’t say.

It doesn’t say, for instance, that the rich man as evil or wicked.

It doesn’t say that he acquired his wealth

through dishonesty or exploiting others.

Nor does it say that he used his money in ways that oppressed or harmed others.

It doesn’t even say that he refused to share his wealth

to help the poor or stimulate the economy.

If anything,

he must have been providing funds for farm hands - to harvest the grain

and builders who built bigger barns!

Note that the text does not describe the man’s fate.

There is no eternal torment awaiting him,

as in the companion parable of the rich man and Lazarus.

What happens to him is simply a wasted life.

He is a fool

because he believed that life consisted in abundance of possessions.

He spent his life accumulating things that were only temporal.

It’s as they always say,

“You can’t take it with you.”

This is why you never see a funeral coach pulling a U-Haul.

Jesus is not saying that rich people should feel guilty

about the fact that they have lots of money and property

(assuming it was acquired honestly).

And Jesus is not handing out spiritual rewards to those who are poor,

implying that somehow poverty, in and of itself, guarantees greater spirituality.

The heart of Jesus’ teaching is this:

Rich or poor, what is our focus in life?

The man in our lesson had one significant failing:

he was not rich toward God.

He did not focus on God!

What does that mean?

What would he have done differently if he were rich toward God?

Would he have given half of his possessions to the poor like Zacchaeus?

Would he have built a synagogue,

like the centurion whose sick servant Jesus healed? (Luke7)

Could it be that Luke doesn’t say

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