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This week's sermon:

             Luke 12:13-21  -  "Building Barns, Postponing Life"
                      
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 The background for our story this morning is an incident that occurred in Galilee as Jesus was teaching to a large crowd. A young man called out from the crowd and said: "Rabbi, tell my brother to divide the inheritance of our father.” Now, Jewish law clearly prescribed that at the death of a father, the elder son received 2/3 of the inheritance, and the young son received 1/3. This is obviously a younger son who is complaining about the inherent unfairness of it all. Nothing will divide brothers and sisters more than dividing up an estate. So it was then, and so it is now. Jesus refused to get involved in a petty family squabble.

 

Jesus was concerned, however, with the larger implications of preoccupation with the things of this world. He said: Beware of greed, for life does not consist of things possessed. The sum total of a person’s life is more than their financial portfolio.

 

He then illustrated this point by telling a story. There was once a man who had an unbroken run of prosperity. In today’s language, he had successfully played the commodities market. So prosperous did he become that his barns could not hold all of his crops. His solution was to tear down these barns and build bigger and better barns. Then, with his financial security in hand, he could sit back and truly enjoy life. His philosophy was: eat, drink, and be merry.

 

Truth be told, when we hear this story we find ourselves rather envious of this man. A financially successful man—we see him as savvy and wise. Yet, Jesus concluded the story by saying that this man was a fool.

 

The issue before us this morning is then: what did this man do wrong? To answer that question we must understand that this is not a parable about money. It is a parable about values and what is important in life. With that in mind, let me suggest four things that this man did that made him a fool.

 

I.    First, he was a fool because he had full barns, but an empty heart.

II.  Secondly, this man was a fool because he overestimated his own value in the scheme of things.

III. Third, this man was a fool because he forgot what his real business in life was really all about.

IV. Fourth, this man was a fool because he forgot about the nature of time.

 

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What Is Unique About Christianity?

The story of Jesus sitting and debating the Law with rabbis reminds me of another debate that took place in a comparative religions conference, the wise and the scholarly were in a spirited debate about what is unique about Christianity. Someone suggested what set Christianity apart from other religions was the concept of incarnation, the idea that God became incarnate in human form. But someone quickly said, “Well, actually, other faiths believe that God appears in human form.” Another suggestion was offered: what about resurrection? The belief that death is not the final word. That the tomb was found empty. Someone slowly shook his head. Other religions have accounts of people returning from the dead.

Then, as the story is told, C.S. Lewis walked into the room, tweed jacket, pipe, armful of papers, a little early for his presentation. He sat down and took in the conversation, which had by now evolved into a fierce debate. Finally during a lull, he spoke saying, “what's all this rumpus about?” Everyone turned in his direction. Trying to explain themselves they said, “We're debating what's unique about Christianity.” “Oh, that's easy,” answered Lewis, “it's....

 

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