Monday, November 01, 2010

Lending God's way

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Luke 6:17-36

TO CHEW ON: "Give to everyone who asks of you and from him who takes away your goods, do not ask them back....lend, hoping for nothing in return..." Luke 6:30, 35.

I once had a roommate who, if you complimented her on something she owned, would offer to let you have it. I always marvelled at how loosely she hung onto her stuff. I, on the other hand, have always had a possessive streak. I blame it on being the oldest of a lot of siblings, where if I wanted something for later, I had to guard it or it would be gone, lost, broken, or used up.

My attitude, no matter how I came by it, is not one of which Jesus would approve. He taught lavish love expressed by generosity in every sphere of life. As a footnote in my Bible puts it:
"The essence of the Christian life is love, with the general principle stated in vs. 31. This love is manifested by responding to personal insult and injustice, not with retaliation or even passive endurance but with positive and aggressive acts of goodness designed to redeem the offenders."  - New Spirit Filled Life Bible, p. 1397. (Don't you love that: "positive and aggressive acts of goodness...")

Of all the surprising ways Jesus tells us to express this love, the one that most snags my attention is His instruction on lending. It includes:
"Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him to takes away your goods, do not ask them back. ..And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back....lend, hoping for nothing in return" (vs. 30, 34-35).

This puzzles me. For doesn't lending, by its very definition imply that we get the thing back?

lend: 1. To grant the use or possession of with the understanding that the thing or its equivalent will be returned.
2. To grant the use of (money) at a stipulated rate of interest.

I can only conclude that Jesus is proposing a new kind of lending. When we give away our things and money in this no-strings-attached way, we are making deposits in His  kingdom's great heavenly banking system where things are eventually returned, though not necessarily in kind, but in "reward."

And there's more. For this kind of stuff-flowing-through-you-and-me living proves that we are truly kids of the Most High, whose generosity to the most undeserving is part of His genes -- His very essence.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, I need a paradigm shift in this area. The reactions to wrongs and injustices, the loose-handed possession described in Luke 6 is impossible for me without Your Spirit living in me. Help me to adopt this way of being in my life. Amen.

MORE: All Saints Day

Today the church celebrates "All Saints Day."

An informational article about this day (written from a Lutheran perspective) describes what the day is about:

"All Saints' Day is a festival on which the church remembers and honors all the Christian faithful, both known and unknown.  This festival has its origins in the Roman Catholic church of the Middle Ages.  Reflecting on the lives and examples of the saints had been a widespread practice of Christians since the earliest days of the church.  By the early Middle Ages, the liturgical calendar was filled with the commemorations of hundreds of saints and martyrs.  Many of these lesser observances were combined into a joint celebration called All Saints' Day." (Read the entire article.

The Episcopal liturgy for the day begins with this collect:

"Almighty God, you have knit together your elect in one communion and fellowship in the mystical body of your Son Christ our Lord: Give us grace so to follow your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those ineffable joys that you have prepared for those who truly love you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen."

Do your 8-12-year-olds have daily devotions? Point them to Bible Drive-Thru.

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