“Your Father’s Good Pleasure”

Let’s say you get an email that tells you you’ve just won millions or you just inherited a bundle or you get an unsolicited phone call from an enthusiastic person who tells you that you’ve won a wonderful cruise for one and all you need to do is secure with your credit card the accommodations for the person who will travel with you. We are all leery, aren’t we? Well, maybe we all still share the nostalgia of a childhood Christmas or a birthday. When someone truly significant in our lives gives us something it is a really good day. But generally can we really imagine someone giving us something, something of inestimable worth, for no other reason than it makes them happy?


 

 

Luke 12:32-40

“Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.33Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 35“Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; 36be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks. 37Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes; truly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them. 38If he comes during the middle of the night, or near dawn, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves. 39“But know this: if the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.”

 

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

For no other reason than it simply pleases God – delights God – for this reason alone – God gives us the kingdom. So get over all your anxiety, your guilt, your shame, your feelings of unworthiness and wretchedness. Yes, you are right, you don’t deserve it, but God is giving it to you anyway. You can put away your righteousness tools and your good intentions too, God is giving it to you –not because who you are or what you’ve done – but just because it tickles God to give it to you. How about that for Good News!

 

Let’s say you get an email that tells you you’ve just won millions or you just inherited a bundle or you get an unsolicited phone call from an enthusiastic person who tells you that you’ve won a wonderful cruise for one and all you need to do is secure with your credit card the accommodations for the person who will travel with you. We are all leery, aren’t we? Well, maybe we all still share the nostalgia of a childhood Christmas or a birthday. When someone truly significant in our lives gives us something it is a really good day. But generally can we really imagine someone giving us something, something of inestimable worth, for no other reason than it makes them happy? No strings.

 

Some of you may remember the 1902 novel Brewster’s Millions. More likely you recall the 1985 remake of the movie with Richard Pryor and John Candy rather than the original1945 movie. No surprise, the ‘millions’ in question didn’t come without strings. Since, in our experiences, there are always implied obligations that come with gifts we can understand why Jesus prefaced his announcement with the words: “Don’t be afraid”. In this instance, we really need not be afraid.

 

There is a classic case in the history of fund raising that comes to mind. Salvation Army fund raisers jumped at the offer of accepted a multistory building in New York City as a tax deductible contribution. What they later discovered was that the costs for bringing the building up to code was greater than the cost of demolishing it.   The owner, having a tidy tax deduction, refused any attempt to return it to them. The moral of the story is, of course, that unfortunately, we have had to learn that you do look a gift horse in the mouth.

 

On pretty good authority, that of Jesus himself, you are being told that God wants to give you something. It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. So, what exactly is “the kingdom” God takes so much delight in giving? How would you describe it? To those who entertain the picture of God as an angry, stern judge whose single function is to punish our wrong doings, the very idea that God wants to give us something good requires a change in their understanding of the character of God. Next, the ‘kingdom of God that God wants to give you is not so mysterious. It means that God wants to give you and me, us, a life of goodness, peace and joy. Now that can’t be all bad. Jesus had it right when he said we needn’t be afraid of what life of the kingdom can bring us. Isn’t that exactly what we pray for when in the Lord’s prayer we pray, “Thy kingdom come, on earth….”?

 

The scripture lesson begins with Jesus saying “…it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” It concludes with telling us that “You also must be ready”. Jesus gives us two criteria for readiness. If we are to receive this gift of a life of goodness, peace and joy we must “sell our possessions” and “be dressed for action”. Opps, that may be more difficult choice. Now the import of this first criteria isn’t a call to intentional poverty. The need is to make room in our lives for the new stuff by getting rid of the old. A follower of Jesus can’t be owned by the stuff of their lives. Possessions must be seen for what they are, gifts from God to be used in the life of the kingdom. We hold them in trust and are called to share them with those who have not.    

 

Think for a minute about the relationship between peace of mind and possessions. Do your possessions bring peace or do you worry about how to protect them? If what you possess brings turmoil and conflict they are not contributing to your peace.

 

Just as quickly, Jesus shifts gears and says that to be ready to receive the gift we must be dressed for action, or have our lamps lit or maybe live with one eye focused on God. When we neglect the quality of our life in the presence of God, its spiritual quality gets lost.  

Now I suppose we could take that good news that God has given to us the Kingdom and start living recklessly – sinning more boldly – eating, drinking, and being merry to the point of excess. After all, ‘God’s gonna give us the kingdom’ anyway. But Jesus has another present in mind for us. What if we too started giving things away just for the great good pleasure of it? We live in a world that wants us to treasure acquiring more and more stuff. Jesus wants us to find the fun in giving stuff away.

 

And just in case you’re wanting to take a minute or two, or a decade, or maybe the rest of your life, to mull this over, Jesus then tells another parable to remind us that right now, right this minute, is the time to act:

You must also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.

So, when you stop and think about it, what is holding us back? Remember, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

 

 

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