Jan 20, 2008 Rich Towards God
By Rev. Shaun Seaman
It has often been said that words you will never hear on a death bed are, “I wish I had spent more time at the office.” We all agree. We think how stupid that would be, and how someone who would say that has missed the point of life completely. Yet look around you. How often do you hear someone talk about their adult children, or their neighbours, or their friends….and the furious pace at which they live, how over-scheduled their lives have become, how their children are racing from one activity to another, how no one has time for anything anymore.
Do you remember when Sunday afternoon drives, and ‘dropping in’ on friends and relatives were in vogue? It was back in Caesar’s time I think. Let’s call it progress. Work weeks of astronomical proportions, the art of multi -tasking, information exchanges at never before imagined rates, everyone plugged into their telephone, Blackberry, I pod, and portable DVD player. It seems we cannot get enough information into our systems fast enough from every source imaginable – And all of this to enhance the quality of our lives.
And you know, perhaps better than I the toll all of this is taking on the lives of those around us…and maybe even ourselves. Have you had a look at the obituaries lately? – Surprise after surprise to see more and more of those photos of men and women in their early 50′s, the stress and strain of their lives, finally catching up to them. But when you sit in those funeral services you soon learn how they are known and fondly remembered- a leading entrepreneur, an innovator, a pillar of the community…apparently a success on all fronts. The eulogizer turns to the children of the deceased and tells them that they hope they knew all of this about their deceased parent and how much they will be missed by their colleagues. Well, the kids don’t know this…in fact they don’t know all that much about the parent they just lost, and perhaps not much more about the one who has survived. They know their parents love them ….just look at all the ‘things’ they have at their disposal…to play with, to drive, to entertain, to thrill and delight…..endless, inexhaustible…no substitute for a parent missing! And the parents of the deceased….they feel the loss too. For a child who grew so fast and excelled so well and never had time to vacation with them, to bring the grandchildren by, to come for Sunday night dinner. After all, success comes at a price.
2,000 years ago Jesus told a story like this. He was very frank in his diagnosis. He doesn’t say the man was evil or wicked; he simply calls him a fool. Jesus knew the man did not deliberately set out to neglect his wife or ignore his kids. It was not his goal to become greedy and pre-occupied. He didn’t plan to defy God or close off all compassion for the poor. He just was busy with other things to do.
There is a movie out now with Jack Nicholson entitled The Bucket List. It is about 2 men who are determined to get some things done before they kick the bucket. I think lists are good. I write at least one a day…things to do lists, grocery lists, places I want to visit lists, people I want to pray for list, Bucket Lists, Life Lists. I wonder what my What Matters Most List would look like? What would yours look like?
At the end of King Solomon’s life, he lamented, “I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me.” The executive, who works from 7 am to 7 pm and beyond every day, will be both very successful and fondly remembered by his wife’s next husband.
Have you heard of the book entitled Death Warmed Over? It’s a cookbook! It is about funeral meals and rituals. The author, Lisa Rotgrak starts the book with the story of a dying man, at home in bed. He can smell the aroma of chocolate chip cookies baking downstairs. They are his favorite. He wanted one more of these scrumptious cookies before he died. He dragged his body out of bed, rolled down the stairs, crawled into the kitchen, and reached out a trembling arm toward the overflowing cookie tray. Suddenly he felt the sting of a spatula smack his feeble hand. “Don’t even think of it. They’re for the funeral.”
The rich fool had many cookies and he thought they were all for him. More barns, Bigger barns. A bigger house. A newer car. A bigger TV screen. A more elaborate sound system. One more cookie. Then one night, along comes the spatula. Whack!
2000 years ago, Jesus summed up the lesson. “So it is for everyone who accumulates riches for themselves but are not rich toward God.” When the game is over, it all goes back in the box. This is true whether you are an artist, or banker, or movie star, or Kenyan warrior. What does it mean to be rich towards God?
Listen to one person’s response to that question:
-Being rich toward God means growing a soul that is increasingly healthy and good;
-it means loving and enjoying the people around you;
-it means learning about your gifts and passions and doing good work to help improve the world;
- it means becoming generous with your stuff;
- it means making that which is temporary become the servant of that which is eternal;
- it means savoring every roll of the dice and every trip around the board.
It seems that God has summed allof this up into one word…Love. Love God…with all your heart, and soul, and m
I cannot prove this, but I am willing to take the hunch that on God’s What Matters Most List, at the top of the list, is YOU. You. He wants you…your heart, your soul, your time, your devotion, your obedience, your gifts, your passion, your love….You.
Remember Jesus and his relationship with Peter? Peter…the wild extrovert…the rock! Peter followed Jesus, served him, learned from him, doubted him, misunderstood him, praised him and denied him. Jesus’ final question to Peter was this:” Peter, do you love me?” 3 times Jesus asked him and 3 times Peter answered him. Can you imagine how Peter must have felt? Don’t you believe me Lord? Do you even have to ask me this once, let alone 3 times? Jesus went on to tell Peter what he wanted him to do, but most of all Jesus wanted Peter to love him.
What do you think of this statement; “Love God and do what you will.”? What do you make of that?
Augustine believed that the soul that truly loves God will want to do what God loves. Love God, and do what you will.
It has been said that the story of the Bible is the story of a single desire of God- the reason God created people is so he could be with us. In
God is saying to you and to me, “I want to spend today with you…and probably tomorrow. That is what matters most to me.”
On the top of a blank piece of paper, write these words: My What Matters Most List?
What is on your list?