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Do Not Worry: There is a Spiritual Economy, Too

November 13, 2008

Continued from previous post

On the days when I’m feeling especially anxious, rather than praying about it, I’ll just ask God to give me a once-over while I go take a nap. My hope is that the Holy Spirit will have better luck with my subconscious self, who is really just a deeper, more in-touch version of me, and perhaps together those two will do some kind of magnificent handiwork on my tired soul.

The next morning I woke up and went back to that same scripture again in Luke 12, and tried to read it with a fresh perspective. This time I happened to notice the few verses that preceded the Do Not Worry passage, which seemed to be connected to the story in an important way. Once I backed up and read again from verse 13 instead of starting at verse 22, I realized that Jesus got into that whole worry discussion mostly because he was trying to say something about our relationship with money.

Here’s what happened in verse 13. Jesus is doing his usual thing, preaching spiritual truths to the crowds, being brilliant and cutting and witty and all that, when some smart-ass in the audience decides that his problem is the most important issue in the room. He then tells – not asks, but tells – Jesus that he wants his help. He wants to get his fair share of his inheritance, because this guy’s brother apparently would not divide it with him, and he needs Jesus to butt in and make his brother split the cash. Which, really, if you think about it, was such an inappropriate and bossy thing to tell Jesus when there’s a huge mob of desperately needy and sick people there all around him. What was this guy thinking? Jesus wouldn’t help him. Instead Jesus more or less says, “Why should I help you, buddy?” That was probably a very effective way of pointing out to the crowd what an idiot this guy was. I’m sure the crowd applauded too, after they heard this comment. Jesus proceeded to use the loudmouth’s obnoxious request to warn everyone about greed, that our life is more than possessions. He went on to tell the story of a rich man who was doing so well with his crops one year that he started fantasizing about building these huge barns, overflowing with all the crops, so that he could sit around all day fat and happy, just collecting the cash. Sounds kind of nice, doesn’t it? “I’ll just eat, drink and be merry,” is the actual line famously used in this scripture. Who among us hasn’t dreamed about having that kind of security? I’ll work hard, make a pile of cash, and finally have freedom. No worries, we think. Like the Joni Mitchell song says: “I’ll make a lot of money and quit this crazy scene.” Unfortunately, the rich man dies that same night, and God says “So, big guy, who’s got all your toys now?”

Jesus knows that we all have this drive to work really hard to try and buy security in life. And he is saying, no, that’s not it. There really is no security in life. That’s the first lesson, numero uno. Which is kind of hard to swallow for us hard-core, independent-minded control freaks. But maybe once we grasp that point, then the verses that follow in Luke 12:22 – 33 about not worrying start to make sense. Jesus is saying there is so much more to life than the raw economics of money and transactions. There is a spiritual economy, too, made of relationships and giving and loving, which leads to a spiritual security. The spiritual economy is going on all around us, right in front of us, and the beauty is that it is based on eternal, unlimited abundance. But we get distracted and driven by the financial economy which appears to be bigger, more important, more tangible and more threatening. So we fret about our portfolio and our prospects, and we check in on the market every 15 minutes, and we worry. But If I am quiet for a second and listen to Jesus very carefully, He says, “You’re operating in the wrong economy. Change gears. Shift your perspective.”

Get over yourself.

We’re all going to survive this financial downturn. It will come, and it will go. We may lose a lot of money, and we may recover it again. God loves me and is still going to take care of me and my family. What I need to do right now is invest in the spiritual economy. That’s more of a sure thing.

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