By asking this question we are invited to reflect on how we participate in the unlimited nature of God and how God can provide, build, and sustain unlimited possibility, connection, treasure and reward when we, God’s people, follow the example of Jesus and risk what we have for God.
Through you. Through me. Through us and them. Through the church - the body of Christ. Whether it is our prayers, presence, or practice; our time, talents, and tithe, or our heart, mind, and money, we both experience the unlimited-ness of God as well as become a part of it.
This series had very little to do with your actual wallet and everything to do with your heart. Where your heart is, there your treasure is also. Truth be told, it is all about your understanding of a giving God and how we are created to live in relationship with God and with one another. When that happens successfully - as taught and modeled by Jesus, we find ourselves bringing about the Kingdom of God right here, right now.
In Matthew chapter 5 and 6, before the parables that describe what the Kingdom of God is like, Jesus instructs the disciples and early followers on why he came, his purpose, and how they are to live in community. They were instructed to model a different way of being community. That is still the call for followers today. It is why we have this conversation about giving, tithing, and the sharing of our gifts. In a world that tries everything it can to divide, fracture, and pit us against one another, it is critical we remember that as followers of Jesus, we are to model a different way, a better way - the Jesus way.
You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world.
I do not come to abolish the law of Moses but to fulfill its purpose.
Just say a simple, yes, I will or no, I won’t.
Give to those who ask, and don’t turn away from those who want to borrow.
When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do - blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity.
When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again.
When you fast, don’t make it obvious and try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire you for fasting.
Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven.
No one can serve two masters. You cannot serve both God and money.
Do not worry about everyday life - isn’t life more than food and your body more than clothing?
All of these teachings lead to the most important one - the reason and motivation for all the rest. The heart of Jesus’ teaching is that above all else we are to seek the Kingdom of God, live righteously, and trust completely that God will give us everything we need.
Seek the Kingdom of God. In later chapters of Matthew, we are told, just as the disciples and the crowd that day, what the Kingdom of God is like - what the nature of God is like. It is that of kindness, support, compassion, unity, fairness, faithfulness, empowerment, transformation, growth, and community. It is not division, injustice, and exclusion. Of course it is not easy or without burden, pain or sorrow. Yet it is rooted in the unity of Christ.
This series then is about taking a good hard look within our hearts and asking ourselves what is it we are going to give - how are we going to give out of what we have been given by God in the first place? How are we to participate in the Kingdom of God? How is living with God and with one another related to the unlimited nature of God?
God is with us through God’s unlimited love - “for God so loved the world that God gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” - we are with God and one another when we share that love through genuine giving and serving.
God is with us through God’s unlimited grace - “by grace, we are forgiven” time and time again if we but seek God. And we are with God and each other when we offer grace to ourselves and others inside and outside these walls.
God is with us through God’s unlimited strength and comfort - “even youth will stumble and fall but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.” And we are with God when we offer that safe place, hope-filled space, and comfort to those in need.
God is with us through God’s unlimited peace - “a peace that passes all understanding” and cradles all of us in the tension of living. And we are with God when we set aside our hurtful criticism and judgment of those we disagree with or who we refuse to acknowledge and instead seek unity.
God is with us through God’s unlimited faithfulness - Jesus says “never will I leave you or forsake you.” God’s presence through the Holy Spirit is always with us in ways we aren’t always aware of. God is steadfast and true. And we are with God when we trust God’s Spirit to lead us into deeper understanding and deeper connections inside and outside these walls.
Opening your wallet is about opening your heart - your gifts, talents, prayers, presence, participation, and giving yourself and your resources to the God of unlimitedness. It is about serving with God and bringing about God’s beauty, goodness, and truth to a world that not only needs it but longs and aches for it in ways we might not even know or comprehend.
God, open us wide to the goodness, beauty, and truth of your unlimited nature. May it be so.
Pastor Jenothy Irvine