In the audio podcast of this Sunday service, the Scripture reading begins at 18:40sec and the Sermon begins at 20:00sec.
Scripture: Matthew 22:34-40
Sermon: “The Integrated Life”
The integrated life. Ahh. An integrated life is like a finely tuned machine—everything working in rhythm. Remember the last new car you’ve driven? I am thinking about when we bought our Corolla new two years ago. The engine ran quiet—maybe like a centered heart. The brakes were responsive like a good conscience. The acceleration was smooth like a healthy pace of life. It handled the curves perfectly like a flexible mindset. It went so far on a tank of gas like smart financial plan. The integrated life.
Then I had an accident with the van. Suddenly the vehicle seemed to be falling apart. At first, I noticed a fender hanging slightly, so I thought Whew! Got away with minor damage. Only to find some days later smoke pouring out of my engine. Turns out I had a hole in the radiator leaking antifreeze. So I towed it in to get that fixed. After haggling with the insurance company and dealership over the repaired radiator, come to find out that the heat no longer worked. That was the water pump for which they had to remove much of the engine again to fix. Let this symbolize the un-integrated life. The blown radiator may symbolize angry attitudes. The broken pump might be like broken family relationships. The fender might be like spending habits weighing down with debt.
What is the key to an integrated life?
Many lives are more like my post-accident van than my new Corolla. They are unintegrated. Particularly between what we say and how we spend: for example,
We say, Honey, I love you then spend $100s on a new golf set and $25 for her birthday;
we say, I care about the environment so we hike the Appalachian Trail, but not donate a dime on the Sierra Club or Audobon Society;
we say, I love God so we may pray, worship, usher, but toss a dollar in the offering;
we say I love my neighbor so that we may chat over the back fence, even visit in each other’s family rooms, but not give a penny to help them after the fire.
Jesus spoke about this life not running on all cylinders in the Great Commandment. Here’s the situation. The religious leaders of Jesus’ day, the Pharisees, want to confine our response to God to a bunch of rules; i.e., just behavior. And they have counted 613 of them in the Hebrew scriptures—about 397 of them Thou shalt nots. So of those 613 religious rules, which is the greatest commandment? they asked. Jesus picked two and integrated them into one. By uniting these Jesus was braiding three strands of life together.
Dt 6:5: Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, your soul and your might.
Lev 19:18: And love your neighbor as yourself.
Life is at it’s holistic best when God is loved with our heart, soul and might, and that love for God is expressed with love for neighbor. That aligns morals, beliefs and money!
What did Jesus mean by heart, soul and might? By heart Jesus meant our will, by soul he meant our whole life, and by might he actually meant our ability to create wealth.
And that last bit is what I want to focus today on Stewardship Sunday. In other cultures the key to integrating our God love life may involve more heart or soul, but in our culture Jesus needs to remind us to love with our might (our ability to create wealth)! If you go to the website www.globalrichlist.com you can see why by figuring out what percentile you reach in the world’s wealth. But let me clue you in. If you make more than $30K you are richer than 97% of the world! If you make $60K you are richer than 99.1% of the world!! If you make $100K you make more than 99.33% of the rest of the world. If you make $200K you make more than 99.9% of the world!! So the rest of the world needs America to integrate our words, I love you Jesus, with our tithe and offerings.
In Luke Jesus even spells this out more clearly. After the key to God’s life is stated as to love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul and might; and your neighbor as yourself a lawyer looking for a loophole asks, And who is my neighbor? Jesus replies with the story of the Good Samaritan. You know the one where a man lying in a pool of his own blood is passed by religious leaders whose lives resemble my van. First the local priest and then a Levite moved to the other side of the road, but not a Samaritan. In fact, the Samaritan takes him to an Inn (as pictured here by Rembrandt) and pays roughly $1000 for the innkeeper to nurse him back to health. Now the Samaritan is whole (loving God with heart, soul and might) and the victim is whole. So Jesus teaches: you can’t love God without loving your neighbor, and you can’t love either without giving money.
So here is your opportunity to become whole by loving God with heart, soul and might. May God bless your life that aligns your spending habits with your words, Amen.
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