Friday, February 24, 2012

Parable of the Shrewd Manager

satan's biggest lie is that we are capable capable of earning God's love. Each time we fall short of our illusive goal, each time we are disappointed by the outcomes achieved by our inputs, satan whispers: "Try harder."

I am reading through the New Testament online: listening with my ears and following the text with my eyes. On screen. On a computer screen. There is no bookmark neatly awarding my progress. No neat checklist tracking Scriptures read. There is only a familiarity when chapters are repeated, a sense that somehow I've been here before. In my imperfection this morning, I could not remember exactly where I was in Luke.

"Now here's a surprise: The master praised the crooked manager! And why? 
Because he knew how to look after himself. Streetwise people are smarter 
in this regard than law-abiding citizens. They are on constant alert, looking for 
angles, surviving by their wits. I want you to be smart in the same way 
but for what is rightusing every adversity to stimulate you to 
creative survival, to concentrate your attention on the bare essentials, 
so you'll live, really live, and not complacently just get by 
on good behavior." —Luke 16:1-9 MSG

The first time I read this parable I struggled to understand its meaning.

As I hear it again, I wonder if being an American a citizen of the United States is a curse. We grow up in the tidiness of ten commandments with God neatly partitioned in Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights. Our concentration is not on bare essentials, but dream houses, nicer cars, bigger churches.

In our focus on the 'must haves' of the American Dream and securing 'nest eggs' for our children's children making our own plans for their lives are we modeling complacency? Getting by on good behavior? Are we cheating ourselves and our loved ones, swindling from them God's greatest gift: Eternal Life?

In this parable is Jesus asking all of us to open our tight-fisted grasp on the letter of the law and actually listen to what God is teaching within our hearts? To believe that God will care for our children's children, that we can share our abundance wildly with others, live fully in today?

satan's lies are boldly evident in my Wounded Heart story. I grew up believing that if we talk about how we are hurting, bring our pain out into the open, we will some how diminish our chances of getting into that better college, being awarded that good job, getting ahead, an earthly success.

The Parable of the Shrewd Manager declares the opposite to my broken heart: keeping secrets, focusing on earthly success works against us, diminishes our capacity to focus on our greatest opportunity: Life earthly AND eternal with God.

We pray for blessings, we pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering

... What if a thousand sleepless nights 
Are what it takes to know You're near?

—Laura Story, Blessings

Morning Glory once pointed out that even the self-label "American" is arrogant, intended to signify membership in the exclusive country club of "United States" when in fact, the letters A-m-e-r-i-c-a-n encompass the much broader geography of South America, Central America and North America. Smart woman, that Morning Glory!

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