This old world is a hard place. In this old world it seems everyone has some angle, some scheme, some leverage. At least the wise do anyway, because you gotta have an edge to keep yourself alive.
“Nothing’s free,” we say. “No free rides.” Even “freedom isn’t free.” You gotta “pay your dues.” You gotta “pay the piper.”
Hey! I’ve got a shocker for ya.
That’s not the way this old world works; in fact, it’s the way this old world doesn’t work.
We would sure do well if the people of God, at least, would figure this out. We need to get off the “teach a man to fish” bandwagon or the “give a hand up, not a handout” bandwagon.
The world works, or at least it did work before selfish people got ahold of it, quite differently.
We are our brother’s keepers. We give to all who ask. Jesus pays the price we cannot pay to have life in the Age to Come! It’s what Jubilee is all about. And if we want to represent Jesus in any meaningful way, we had better get this straight.
God made this world to be his free gift of love for you and all his creatures. A FREE GIFT!
Let me say that again just as clearly as I can so you don’t miss it.
A FREE GIFT!!!
Did I say that loudly and clearly enough to cut through your nonsense yet? You have too much perverted love (a twist on love really, since it surely soils that good word) for darkness – not light, for your own pride – your strategies, your manipulations, your achievements. You want to remake the poor in your image rather than be remade in God’s. You would rather trust in your own righteousness – your financial righteousness which holds you in your fine house on the nice side of town, your fancy car, that designer suit and bag and shoes…. and on and on it goes.
You throw a few dollars at the 501c3 that employs professionals who assure you that they won’t spend your money on booze for the poor. You buy that latte at the coffee shop that shoots fifty cents each time to the same charitable organization, but you can’t be bothered to listen – really listen – to Jesus who created this world to be a FREE GIFT in which you and all God’s creatures celebrate God’s love, his real love, that pays the price of your admittance.
Go look at Luke 14:12-14 carefully.
Jesus wants you to do your celebrating by inviting those who CANNOT REPAY you the favor.
You can’t show off that fancy new bag you got last week at this party. No one there cares! Not if you invite the people who cannot repay you the favor.
The people who cannot repay the favor are stunned they got invited to your party at all.
Do you know how long it’s been since the poor, the broken, the lost and needy have been invited to your party? It’s been forever! But God says those are the ones he wants you to invite. He says for you to exclude all your rich family and friends and invite those who cannot repay you the favor.
That means it’s just you and the poor.
(And Jesus – as per Matt. 25:31-46)
Did you ever study on this in Bible class before? Did you ever meditate on it? Even for a moment?
What do you think it’s like to be in that scenario?
If you are the poor, you suddenly got a really good gig! This is a real shock to your poor system. This party does not (ostensibly) make you into a sober, job-trained, anger-managed, respectable applicant or financially independent taxpayer. It merely makes you valued in that deeply interpersonal sense that says more spiritually about God and the world he makes than it does in making you a good brickmaker in Pharaoh’s brickyard.
If you are the rich, you suddenly got all these needy friends who change your values about everything. Rather than trying to make everything “just right” so you can impress important people and leverage them for your own gain, you find such burdens automatically eliminated. You get in touch with a whole other kind of value system, and you discover great strength and power in yourself originating in another world.
This simple passage of Scripture appears to prepare both you and the poor for a Rule of God in the Age to Come, in the New Creation – things this old world cannot cope with or even imagine.
And THAT sounds like being on the right track.