“Do not be afraid”

Saturday

Luke 12

Tubes of Paint

Tubes of Paint (Photo credit: gordonplant)

32“Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

The next line is the one that causes us all to stumble.  That’s where Jesus says, ”Sell your possessions, and give alms.”  But we stumble only if we haven’t understood this line that comes first: “Do not be afraid.”

Everything Jesus says about our possessions is built on the foundation that “it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

The fabric of the world is gift and grace.  The heartbeat of the universe is compassion and bounty.  God delights in bringing the kingdom.  It is God’s good pleasure to draw near to touch and free our hearts with his own breath/Spirit.  It is God’s delight to see his mercies shared.

In fear, we have become like artists storing up tube after tube of paint rather than spreading it upon the canvas.  We are musicians protecting our instruments rather than letting them sing.  We are farmers storing a rich harvest rather than sharing the bounty with others, vinters who drink their wine in private rather than participating in the banquet of life.

32“Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

It is with the kingdom of God as it is with a sower who went out to sow.  He scatters his seed abundantly, recklessly, lavishly.  Some falls on the path and is gobbled up by birds, and some among the weeds where it gets choked, and some among rocks where it gains no root, but that lavish, foolish, abundant scattering also falls on good soil and brings an abundant, lavish harvest.

32“Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

It is with God as it is with lovers at Christmas who have found the perfect gift for their beloved and cannot wait for them to open it.

God waits with eager longing to give his Spirit.  God waits with eager longing to lift our shame and sorrow.  God waits with eager longing to heal fearful hearts.  God waits with eager longing to breathe his grace and life into us.  Not just once, but anew every day.

Because his arms are open wide to give us all things, we can let go of all those things to which we cling so tightly.  Safety.  Security.  Possessions.  Reputation.  Relationships.  Status.  Wealth.  We can use all those things for their rightful purpose – to bring the joy of the eternal wedding feast to the human community.

  33Sell your possessions, and give alms.

The problem is not possessions; the problem is possessions that are kept rather than shared.  The invitation is to enter into the joy of God’s eternal feast.

Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.

The problem of stored grain is mold and rats.  That’s not a problem when God’s abundance is shared.

 34For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

The heart is the place where decisions get made.  If you live in fear you will choose from fear.  If you live in scarcity you will choose from scarcity.  If you live in guilt, you will choose from guilt.  If you live in God’s kingdom, you will choose from God’s Spirit: from grace, compassion, freedom, joy.

32“Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

What Jesus says to us is simple, profound, and liberating: “Let go of what you store up and join the feast.”