Week 16 | Luke 16
By Rev. Scott Parrish
Jesus challenges his disciples, beyond mere talk, to have a heart for God and unexpected action. Luke 16 encourages us to live God’s Kingdom-way-of-life today. This is especially helpful if we feel overwhelmed, walking in the valley of the shadow of COVID-19, eager for the redemption of Easter and celebrating God’s triumph over death.
Days 1-3 Read Luke 16:1-18 meditatively each day.
I’ve recently been reminded that most folk don’t know goat from sheep. We raise a few Boer goats on our small farm. Goats are always hungry and have an eye for what is on the other side of the fence. Goats consistently test boundaries.
Recently a friend asked about my sheep. I had to break the news that while they look the same to the untrained eye that we are all goats!
Luke 16 (and COVID-19) is disorienting as it breaks into our established routines and expectations. We must now focus on stewarding life and relationships in fresh ways. We are called to use all our resources wisely to honor God. Then, with a retrained mind and new habits, be a blessing to our neighbors.
A life of faith challenges our preferences. Can't we have both God and money?! We sometimes say, “If I had more I’d do more.” Can you do more and be more if you have less? Our priorities are revealed in how we use what we have. We are stewards with a temporary status and only certain credit transfers to our eternal life.
The religious leaders got angry about Jesus naming that we "justify ourselves in the eyes of others." We want to be perceived as good, or maybe even as better than others. We prioritize our life as more blessed and worthy than others, yet Jesus calls us to live another way.
The shrewd manager story pushes us to adapt our practices to be useful to our true Master. While “use your resources to gain friends” may not seem deeply spiritual, we see in these days how a community of life, faith, and hope—a circle of friends—can sustain us and isn’t a waste of resources in God’s economy.
Days 4-7 Read Luke 16:19-31 in different translations for fresh experience.
We have no idea how the wealthy man had his riches, nor how Lazarus/ Eleazar – “whom God helps” – had deep poverty and despair. All Lazarus had was God as he had no place, no food, and no medical help.
A crisis like COVID-19 may flip our script so that rather than being the unnamed rich one we are suddenly the beggar. Or perhaps we see and identify with someone in personal ways as we risk being a comfort to their plight as socio-economic divides blur in light of pandemic. No matter our place in life we have the opportunity to see differently and do differently as we break down barriers for the sake of others.
We ready ourselves for heaven by being a consistent ally to neighbors in need. I’d modify the great D.T. Niles quote and suggest a lifestyle of offering practical comfort, one beggar to another, helps us join in the way Jesus has shown us. We’ve got nothing to lose, and our eternal life to gain. Don’t wait as the time is urgent and the need is now!
Rev. Scott Parrish is Associate Director of Congregational Excellence and our Conference Disaster Response Coordinator.