Friday, August 5, 2016

Bishop’s Note: August 4, 2016 – Rich Toward God

Bishop Eric Menees

The Gospel Lesson from last Sunday was taken from the twelfth chapter of Luke – the Parable of the Rich Fool. Jesus concludes the parable by saying: “So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:21) Jesus’ concluding statement begs the question: What does it look like to be “rich toward God?”

There are lots of people now, and throughout history, who have preached something called “The Prosperity Gospel.” I was introduced to this heresy in the mid 1990’s. I was home mid-week, feeling under the weather and flipping through the TV channels. I came upon a television evangelist by the name of Pastor Frederick Price of the Crenshaw Ministry Center. He was a very entertaining as a preacher – but what caught my attention was a topic he kept hammering home; the idea that, “If we obey God’s commandments he will make us monetarily rich!” Just look at him, he said – he has two Bentley’s, lives in a mansion with an ocean view, and travels around the world in first class.

Of course, obeying God meant giving very generously to the Crenshaw Ministry Center. Pastor Price missed the irony. The heresy of the Prosperity Gospel is so very harmful because it leads to the false promise that God will reward faithfulness with material possessions.

However, when we compare that false hope to the promise of scripture where St. Paul writes to the church in Galatia describing the fruit of the Holy Spirit, we discover what true riches are. St. Paul tells us that the true riches of God are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23) These riches cannot be purchased; they can only be received as the fruit of a true and lasting relationship with God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. These are the gifts that sustain life on earth and prepare us for the life to come. These are the gifts that give life meaning and cannot be purchased, or forced, or manufactured. 

As we step out in faith, let us learn from the example of the Rich Fool and not put our attentions upon the material possessions of the earth, but rather on the spiritual fruit of a lasting relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

I pray you all a very blessed week!

Catechism Questions: 321-322

321. How did God teach Israel to respect the property of others?
God gave land and possessions as a trust from him, which could be bought, sold, and inherited. He required restitution when property was stolen, and forbade unjust loans and interest. (Exodus 22:1; Leviticus 25:36-37; Numbers 27; 33:50-36:12)

322. What things other than property can you steal?
I can steal reputation, wages, and honor; credit, answers, and inventions; friendship, hope, and goodwill from others. I must repay and, to the best of my ability, restore what I have stolen. (Deuteronomy 24:14-15, 17-18; 2 Samuel 11-15; 1 Kings 21)

No comments: