Saturday Sermon: A mind-set of impoverishment

Phil Steinbach

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

- John 10:10 (NRS)

Bills! Bills! Bills! There is never enough money. Meetings! Meetings! Meetings! There is never enough time. Work! Work! Work! There is never enough energy. It is the story of my life. Whatever I need, it always seems that there is never enough of it. There's just not enough.

I can hear you snickering out there, "Pastor Phil apparently gets enough to eat!" Yes, I know, I am well fed. I am not missing any meals, but even overeating can be a sign of impoverishment. Over-functioning in one area of life often points to under-functioning in another. I have heard that finding a happy balance is the answer to life's problems. Easier said than done. Am I the only one who feels a balanced life is more like a dangerous high-wire act with no net?

Jesus speaks directly to the heart of the human condition. Even in first-century Palestine, people had trouble with money. Poverty was a widespread problem. The wealthy just kept getting wealthier, and the poor just kept getting poorer. Some things never change. We complain about the number of meetings we have to attend, but 2,000 years ago, people had no opportunity to participate in any significant decision making. They had to do as they were told. Supposedly, we have more leisure time today than at any time in history. So what seems to be the problem? Why is there never enough of what we really need?

It is a question of priorities. Actually, it is more like idolatry. We have convinced ourselves that money, organization and efficiency are the keys to the kingdom. They are not. They are, in fact, the thieves who come to steal, kill and destroy the fullness and joyousness of life. Money, organization and efficiency cannot and will not ever provide the means by which God's promise of salvation is fulfilled. There's not enough money, not enough rules and not enough works righteousness that can be summoned to break the grip of sin and death.

Jesus offers something different. Jesus is the bread of life, the wellspring of the spirit and the doorway to eternity. Jesus offers rest for our burdens, forgiveness for our sins and healing for our souls. His offer is not only to provide for our basic human needs, but also to fill our cup to overflowing with mercy upon mercy, blessing upon blessing, and grace upon grace.

A mind-set of impoverishment is clearly a sign of faithlessness and unbelief. To say that there is never enough is to call Jesus a liar. The challenge of the Gospel is to respond to the world in ways that affirm, embrace and bear witness to the promise of abundant life God has revealed in Christ Jesus.

Phil Steinbach is a Methodist pastor.