Jesus and the Stuff
Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
The guy in the crowd didn’t care about the kingdom of God. He cared about how much money he was getting from Dad. We’re not that different. We think the most important things are things. When we don’t have what we want, we worry about how we can get more. When we have what we want, we worry about how we’re going to pay for it and keep it. When we get old enough, we may realize we have too much and worry about how we’re going to get rid of it! And tomorrow the nation will pause to eat turkey and watch football while those of us who still have some religion will try to remember we’re supposed to give thanks for all of it. But Jesus nails it down with His words: “One’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.” In other words, life is more than your stuff.
So if our lives aren’t about our things, what are they about? Our lives are about Jesus—the Jesus who saves us from the sin of loving the stuff God gives us more than loving the God who gives it. He rescues us from idolatry by being the true God who saves us. He rescues us from our covetousness by hiding His eternal glory in the flesh, being born in the flesh and living as if the stuff doesn’t matter. He lives as if there is nothing to covet, nothing to worry about, nothing to want to grab and hoard. Jesus lives as if the only thing He is about, the only thing He came for, the only thing on His mind, is taking your sins from you, suffering for them, dying for them, and rising again to save you. For us who think our life consists in what we have, Jesus comes, and His life consists in taking you back from sin and death!
The difference between the church and the unbelieving world isn’t that they have more stuff than us or that as Christians we are supposed to get rid of our stuff. It’s not about the stuff. And the difference isn’t that the world makes idols out of its things and we don’t. We do. The difference is that we live by faith in the Son of God, knowing that for Jesus’ sake, God doesn’t count our coveting and idolatry against us. He counts the contentment and obedience of Jesus as ours. We who are so worried over possessions are now, through our Baptism into Christ, owned by the Lord. We are made His. All our idolatry and coveting and lusting after the things of this world, along with all our other sins, are blotted out by the words of Absolution. In the Supper, Christ who desires nothing other than to do the Father’s will and save you, dwells in you by His Body and Blood. Through Him you have the promise that your sins are forgiven and you will be raised up the Last Day. The difference between you, God’s child, and the unbelieving world, isn’t that you give thanks more than they do, but that you recognize all your gifts are from the Lord—especially the forgiveness for turning His gifts into gods!
So that means now you can give thanks properly for our gifts. You thank our heavenly Father for giving you “all we need to support this body and life.” Maybe you have more than you need. Maybe we want more than you have. Regardless, through faith in Christ you know that you have all you could ever want or need in Jesus. Stuff doesn’t really need to be a big deal. First of all, give thanks to your Father in heaven who has given you your stuff. That stuff is a reminder that your heavenly Father is taking care of you. He is the giver of every good gift. Your gifts are to enjoy and to be a testimony to others that your heavenly Father cares for you and them in Jesus.
The Lord doesn’t just rescue you and give you salvation so you can point fingers at an unbelieving world and look down on them! Rather, as Paul tells Timothy, the Lord wants all people “to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” The Lord blesses you with every blessing in Christ and teaches you to pray for a peaceful and godly life. Give thanks. Enjoy what God has given you. Share what you have. Pray for those who don’t yet have the gift of salvation. And enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday, knowing that you are the Lord’s precious child whose life is not at all in what you have, but in Christ and what He has for you—both for this life and for the life of the world to come. In the name of the Father and of the Son (†) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always. Amen.