Sunday Sermon – Pr. Loren

  1. 1502435_488720847898065_5065822072428423218_o (1)“Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.”

You may remember the scene at a political debate a few years ago:

  1. Question: a young man with not health insurance becomes sick and needs medical care to stay alive
  2. Candidate: In a free society people are free to take risks and live with the consequences
  3. Question Pressed: should we let him die
  4. Audience: before candidate can figure out a response someone shouts “yes” and the crowd cheers and applauds
  5. Paul says to the Philippians:
  1. “Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.”

A Christmas Carol

  1. Gentlemen come to Scrooge’s office to “raise some money for the poor”
  2. Scrooge inquires whether the poor laws—which imprisoned the poor in work houses—were still operating—these Scrooge already supported with his taxes
  3. When the gentlemen say, “many can’t go there; and many would rather die;” Scrooge response: “If they would rather die, they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.
  4. Later, when Scrooge is with the Ghost of Christmas Present, he asks about Tiny Tim—his clerk’s crippled son, with some compassion in his voice.
  5. The Ghost answers:

Ch. Present : “I see a vacant seat, in the poor chimney-corner, and a crutch without an owner. If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future, the child will die.”

Scrooge: “No, no. Oh, no, kind Spirit! Say he will be spared.”

Ch. Present: “If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future, none other of my race, will find him here. What then? ‘If he be like to die, he had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.’ Your own words, are they not? Do not say such words again until you have discovered What the surplus is, and Where it is. Will you decide who shall live, who shall die? It may be, that in the sight of Heaven, you are more worthless and less fit to live than millions like this poor man’s child!”

  1. Scrooge learns:
    1. On Christmas day he finds the men who asked for his contribution the day before, and he arranges to supply them with years of back payments
    2. And he endeavors to assist his clerks struggling family,
    3. And as Dickens concludes his story, “Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he was a second father. He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, … and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge.”
  • “Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.”

The Christ Hymn

  1. Let the same mind be in you as was in Jesus
  2. Jesus—equality with God
  3. Not something to be exploited
    1. How easy we “exploit” for ourselves any resources or advantages that come our way – talent, work opportunities, money, positions of power, our birth in free and wealthy country,
    2. Global Poverty / Hunger – 80% live on $10 or less a day / half on less than $2.50 / 30,000 children died every day because of hunger
  4. Yet in the face of these statistics we do little to change the hunger statistics – we look to our own interests and exploit our advantages
    1. Adam Smith (18th century economist) – we want to believe his idea –
      • when everyone looks after their own self-interest, it creates the greatest good for everyone.
      • Over 200 years of that thinking has only increased wealth for the rich and powerful, and left the poor more and more destitute.
      • Subsistence farming – once a viable option for the poor – is no longer an option, because land for such living is no longer available.
      • Basing our economic thinking on Adam Smith’s principles, means that we encourage an economy that is based on greed, and if I am not mistaken that was once considered one of the seven deadly sins.
    2. Stewardship recognizes that God gives us resources to tend to responsibilities—well-being of family, community, environment, world
    3. Paul encourages the exact opposite of Adam Smith
  5. “Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.”

Emperor Julian (4th century grandson of Constantine, the first Christian Roman Emperor)

  1. Julian sought to outlaw Christianity and bring back the older state religion of Rome.
  2. The big problem was the generosity that Christians had learned from Jesus to look to the interests of others — and they made that caring concern a deep part of their way of life in those early centuries of the church.
  3. Julian: “It is disgraceful, that, when no Jew has to beg and the impious Christians take care not only of their own poor but ours as well, all see that our people lack aid from us.”
  4. The generosity of Christians was the chief reason people were turning to the Christianity faith and deserting the ancient Roman religions.

May you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others, and may you be filled with the spirit of generosity and compassion, so that like Scrooge and those early Christians, you may have the same mind in you that was in Christ Jesus, who though he was in the form of God did not regard it as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, in compassion and in love. AMEN