September 22, 2019: French Fries

Readings:

Amos 8:4-7

Luke 16:1-13

This has been a bittersweet week for me.

Friday was Maddie’s birthday. We had a great time.

But Thursday was rough.

Thursday was the 9th anniversary of my dad’s death.

It’s hard to remember something so devastating and then celebrate something so wonderful a day later.

But I did want to share with you a quick story of my dad and me when I was a kid.

My dad would pick me up after school and take me to the local Burger King where he would buy me a meal I called The Usual.

Hamburger, French fries, and a drink.

Once I had my hands on that BK bag, I would start digging into those French fries.

And then my dad would ask the question.

“Can I have one fry?”

And I would say, “okay” and then choose the smallest French fry in the bag.

You should have seen my dad’s face when I would do that.

And he would say, “but I bought them for you!”

So I would bring out my ace card…

 “Yes, daddy, but you gave them to me!”

Thinking case closed.

But then my dad would say, “Well I could always stop buying them for you.”

I lost that case.

And now whenever I pick up food for the family like chicken nuggets or pizza, I always ask Maddie and Paul how many pieces I get:

And guess what their answer is?

“No!”

Somewhere in heaven I know my dad smiles when that happens.

But here is what dad and French fries taught me:

The French fries were a gift.

But I had to let go of the gift 

and love the one who gave it to me.

That is the same lesson Amos is teaching Israel in our first lesson.

By the time Amos is written,
Israel is in a position of power.

Which was rare.

Rather than being slaves and the persecuted,

They were the nation with power and influence.

They were the nation with the strongest currency.

And the power went to their heads.

And instead of thanking God for these gifts, Israel started to worship another god: 

Mammon.

Money. 

And Mammon led the people to believe that they actually OWNED the money given to them.

This led to the nation becoming very arrogant and greedy.

So greedy that they started to dishonor the Sabbath. 

They had forgotten the gift of the Sabbath and the reason for the Sabbath.

The Sabbath was a day to worship the God who had given them everything.

Instead, they turned it to a day of impatience, waiting until it was over so they could get back to the marketplace.

“Enough with this God Almighty stuff, let’s get back to the market! I got things to buy and sell!”

So Amos is telling the people that God is upset.

Everything they were given was a gift.

But they wanted to hold on to the gift,

the people wanted to keep rather than give.

Now please hear me, the sin was not having money, but in the way they used it.

They did not use the money to help but to hurt.

They used the money to buy stuff

And people.

Back then a slave could go for a large amount of money,

But a slave could be bought in exchange for a sandal.

They not only hurt the poor, but they hurt God in the process.

The problem still exists today.

We cling to money like it is our Lord and Savior.

We pay more attention to the Stock Market than we do the Bible.

And yet…

God still finds us worthy of salvation, just like God found Israel worthy.

And that is what Amos is saying to Israel and us

God is not judging them in order to condemn,

but to get them to change and come back to God.

But to come back to God, they had to make a choice.

They have to let go of the gift,

And love the one who gave it to them.

Again, I want to repeat that having money is not the issue.

It is what we do with it.

Our ability to earn Money is a gift.  

It is a gift from God.

And God wants us to take better care of how we use

 God’s gift.

And that is what Jesus tells us in the parable in the gospel.

On the surface, it looks like Jesus is making this dishonest manager into some type of role model.

And it looks like Jesus is telling us to make as many dishonest friends as possible.

But that doesn’t sound like something Jesus would say do.

So what is his point?

The point Jesus makes can be found at the end of our passage:

“You cannot serve God and Wealth.”

What does this mean?

We think Wealth is not something we possess.

But it is something that can possess us.

Wealth isn’t only something we use; it uses us.

It demands allegiances.

It means that Wealth (mammon) can be a rival to God.

Wealth can be a rival for our affections, our attention, and our hearts.

And God is calling us to give all our hearts to Him.

So Jesus is asking you one question:

Who are YOU going to serve?

You have two choices: God or Wealth.

You can choose SOMETHING

You can choose the SOMETHING that has never shown you love.

You can choose the SOMETHING that has never cared about you.

You can choose the SOMETHING that has never held you as you grieved the loss of father while you wish for one more chance to give him the biggest, the best, French fry.

OR

You can choose SOMEONE.

SOMEONE who despite our sins, looked at us and said, “I love you so much, I will give you everything I have.”

SOMEONE who has given you life.

SOMEONE who has given you blessings.

SOMEONE who has given you HIS life for yours.

SOMEONE who reminds me that one day just as you will see your loved ones

I will see my dad again 

And this time the French fries are on me.

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