We live in uncertain times. I suppose that is always the case, but I believe we are even more aware of it these days. The Florida shooting last week took us by horrible surprise. It was a bitter, shocking reminder that we have no idea when we step out the door each day if it will be our last. I cannot imagine how the teenagers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida feel after coming so close to death, and as they grieve the loss of classmates and teachers at their school. These survivors’ lives are still before them, and yet it would appear their lives are passing before their very eyes. For those of us who are much older and who are far removed geographically and existentially from last week and its aftermath, we may be thinking of this week’s grocery bills or next month’s mortgage. We may even be thinking of retirement, wondering if the golden years will be more like silver, or perhaps a bit more like tin. What does the future hold for you and me?
For many people today, it’s back to business as usual after the weekend. While not all of us are trading in futures this Monday, all of are making investments or withdrawals in life that affect our futures. It reminds me of Jesus’ interaction with various people on how to make good decisions that affect their long-term well-being. Consider Jesus’ statement to the rich young ruler who comes to Jesus to find out what he needs to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus responds: “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me” (Matthew 19:21; ESV). Or consider Jesus’ exhortation to his disciples: “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Luke 12:32-34; ESV).
Sometimes I come across fellow Christians who think that because we belong to the kingdom of heaven we don’t have to care about life here on earth. That is not how Jesus sees it. Rather, it is because we belong to the kingdom of heaven, we can care more deeply for others here on earth. We are free to love in the here and now because God’s love secures us eternally. God is our Father, not Moralistic Therapeutic Deism’s Divine Butler who gives us what we want, when we want it, and at the least cost to ourselves. God is our Father, not Moralistic Therapeutic Deism’s Cosmic Therapist who helps us feel better about ourselves. Certainly, God gives to us and comforts us as a good father or mother cares for their children. God does so by sharing the whole of divine life with us now and through eternity, and not simply when we ring the butler bell for service or schedule an appointment for our next therapy session.
How then do we live our lives here and now—by grasping or giving, by seizing or sharing? Things last only a short while, but people last forever in Jesus’ kingdom calculus. So, we need to be attentive to what kind of investments we are making. We can take great comfort in knowing that God has made a lasting investment in us. As quoted above, “…it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” And so, Jesus tells us not to fear, but in faith to make sound investments in our eternal futures by providing ourselves “with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys,” and where no gunman can steal our lives away.
God would have us give to the needy rather than grab, to share with those in need rather than seize. While we do not know what the future holds for us when we step outside the door each day, that does not mean we have to live and die in fear. After all, God has given us his Spirit, which is not a Spirit of fear, but of love (See Romans 8:15; 2 Timothy 1:7), and “who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:14; ESV). As important as it is that we ponder what the future holds, it is far more important that we live in the Spirit in view of Jesus and his Father, who hold our future in their hands.