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Jul 29 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

July 24, 2011

Peter said, “Lord, are You addressing this parable to us or to everyone else as well?” Luke 12:41 (read verses 41-48)

INTRO: Peter’s question brings something to our attention

That during this teaching session, there were two groups present

– v. 1, the crowd, in which people were climbing over each other to get to Jesus, and the disciples

(in v. 13 we are reminded of the crowd, but in v. 22 Jesus addressed the disciples)

Peter’s question serves an important function: it clarifies who it is that Jesus is trying to instruct and influence

I have heard preachers relativize the teaching of Jesus by isolating passages that, they say, were meant only for the disciples, suggesting they were called to a greater commitment than the rest of his followers

– that is one way of extricating ourselves from the discomfort that some of his teaching evokes

– we do not have to allow ourselves to feel the pinch of even thinking about selling our possessions and giving to charity (Lk. 12:33)

So does this teaching apply to the disciples alone or the whole crowd?

I love the way Jesus responds to questions (he doesn’t answer, he responds)

– he does not answer the question people ask, but the question they should have asked

– his answer: his intended audience is both universal and specific at same time

“Who then is the faithful and sensible steward . . .?”

– the parable is told to everyone who hears it, but especially to one who chooses to be addressed by it, who chooses to live it

An arial view of the chapter: Jesus warned disciples away from hypocrisy

– we saw that hypocrisy is motivated by fear (of the truth, of what others will see or think)

– Jesus calls us to live fearless and transparent lives

Another motivation for hypocrisy is greed

– Jesus’ solution to that problem is to cultivate a heart of detachment (worry is attachment to things, to life)

This requires some soul training

– last week, Lesson one: The Discipline of Waiting

Lesson two is The Discipline of Doing

Jesus has the same person in mind in verses 42-44 as in 35-38–therefore, this person is both waiting and doing

– waiting is not inactivity

– it is an exercise in prayer that adds to the development of a Christian spirituality

Verses 42-44, An example of how to do this the right way

What is our objective?

– to have an awareness of God as we go about our ordinary activities

– to combine the state of waiting with doing, of being with doing, to be both Mary and Martha (10:38-42)

– when we arrive at this state, we will be aware of God’s presence all the time, not only during our times of prayer

Another way to come at this: Lk. 17:18

Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.

What do we learn from children?

To soak-in the experience of the present moment

– have you ever thought about the fact that our first experience of something wonderful is the richest?

You can’t reconstruct an experience and get same feelings

– Barb and I watched an interview with a parachutist who has to keep pushing envelope of risk and danger to recapture the thrill of the sport

– we have no words or categories for our first experience

– by the second or third time, the experience has moved from our body into our head

– once you name a thing, you have created a distance between it and yourself

There’s a difference between noticing a clear sky and experiencing it

– we live in an amusement park culture, glutted with stimulation

– we run from ride to ride without experiencing anything

To settle into experience, it may help to bring your attention to the following:

  • “I am sitting . . .” – describe where your body is in space with some detail
  • “I am doing . . .” – describe your current activity
  • “I am thinking . . .” – describe where your attention is focused

At any moment you can bring attention to the pure experience of being

– to an immediate experience of your senses: visual auditory, tactile

– for example, focus your attention on the weight of your Bible, what it feels and sounds like when you turn a page, etc.

I find it helpful as I’m reading to occasionally bring my attention back to my breath–this reminds me of the Spirit of God who assists my understanding as I read

Two things happen when you bring focused attention to your experience: In every moment . . .

  1. You begin to see people and events differently (through God’s lens, so to speak)
  2. You discover a wealth of stimulation in every moment that is worth paying attention to

Look at the person Jesus describes (and I will add a couple of my own thoughts)

  • faithful – doing the right things, what one is supposed to do- we can learn to bring awareness to the thoughts and feelings that knock us off track
  • sensible – thoughtful, but this is something other than wisdom or knowledge- do you know triggers that produce your negative moods? (e.g., you are criticized, your child gets in trouble, a bad driver cuts in front of you, etc.)

    – we can train brain to have “awareness triggers” so that we use common sights or events to bring our attention back to the experience of the present moment

  • a steward – “in charge of his servants”; you know your responsibilities and influence
  • take care of others – “give them their rations”; his “doing” is others-oriented
  • live in kairos time – “at the proper time”; God’s timing as it intersects with our (chronos) time- the “rest” of Hebrews chapters 3 and 4 (a relaxed body makes for a more attentive mind)

    – don’t try to get to any special place or feeling in your prayer time, but be with God right where you are in space and time and circumstance

  • silence the inner judge- constantly judging myself (“I’m such a moron!” or “I can’t do this silent prayer stuff! I’m too ADD”)

    – frequently judging others – and even doing this unconsciously

    – try to silence the inner judge and you will discover how constantly it goes on

To quickly get to a moment-by-moment awareness of your immediate experience or to return to i t there, take control of your breath

A friend who was a firefighter told me about another guy at his station who picked up a broom and started sweeping every time their captain entered the station–otherwise he sat on the couch and watched TV with everyone else

– we play the odds, trying to do good at the right moment

– Jesus is telling us that if we make this constant awareness of our Lord’s world and will a lifestyle, then we have not need to worry about being caught off guard

This person will receive a promotion – doors will open, and he will move on

Verses 45-46, An example of how to do this the wrong way

The challenge: The “lord” is not physically here at present, but he will come

– the temptation is to live for now–to grab at what is immediate, visible, tangible

The untrained soul easily lapses into unawareness

  • their inner monologue goes bad – “says in his heart”–calculating (cf., v. 17)
  • they become skeptical – “My lord delays his coming”
  • They exploit and abuse others – what is the significance of Jesus specifying “men and women”- this slave makes no distinction–they’re all alike to him, more like machines than people

    – his concern is for their function and performance, not for them as human persons

  • they are self-indulgent – “eat and drink . . .” (as in v. 19)- over-indulging himself means he is depriving others  of their rations

This person will always be taken by surprise

– he assumed it was alright for him to do this–that he was more deserving or clever than everyone else

– he has the false idea that it is supposed to be this way

Their inner thought is that their houses are forever

And their dwelling places to all generations;

They have called their lands after their own names.

But man in his pomp will not endure;

He is like the beasts that perish.

. . . As sheep they are appointed for [the grave];

Death shall be their shepherd . . . (Ps. 49:11-14)

So, just as their behavior is the opposite of the faithful steward, so is their destiny

47-48, A scale to determine the consequences of our actions

Why do you suppose Jesus added this statement?

– because there’s such a strong tendency to slide in the wrong direction

– the more resources you have and control, the more God expects from you

Jesus adds this to re-emphasize the importance of getting ready and acting according to his lord’s will (v. 47)

CONC: What I want you to take with you

Jesus gives us a way to connect with God’s grace

– we can do this anytime, anywhere, under any circumstances

– whether  what we see is beauty or a pile of trash, whether doors open before we reach them or we find ourselves behind a string of brake lights

In combining being with doing, everything becomes a spiritual exercise, a prayer, an act of worship

Everything becomes a door through which God’s grace enters our moment, our body, our heart, our mind, our world

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