Sermon Summary (11/17/19) “Shrewd” (Lk 16:1-9)
A dozen years ago, I met a young pastor, Mike Rayson, and we connected on many levels. When we met, he was in the midst of grieving the loss of his son, Sam, in a horse accident. Next, he was an Aussie, Australian, an ordained pastor in the Uniting Church that I often attended on my many trips. Years later, Rosemary and I attended a worship service planned and led by Mike, the most wonderful and meaningful worship service we ever attended. I then found that Mike had been appointed to a Methodist Church in Granite City, IL. If Rosemary was still with me, we would travel the three hours just to attend.
Then in March, I found that Mike had been relieved of his credentials by his bishop. What if you were a pastor one day and did not have a church the next? Mike started a church, and within two months it was every bit the church that he was forced from. How? I would suggest, shrewdly, using all the wiles of the world around him.
What if you arrived and the church was locked, or maybe just a green space? What would you do? Knock on doors, yes, but use all the technology available to create a worshiping community. Shrewdly, with all the wiles of the world around us.
Today, we are looking at a parable unique to Luke, “The Dishonest Manager,” maybe the most difficult of Jesus’ teachings. We need to be careful to not treat it as an allegory, attributing roles, eg. God, us, others to the all the characters with multiple teaching points. The Prodigal Son is an allegory. The Dishonest Manager is a parable with a single teaching point. If we treat it as an allegory, we will be confused. “8 And his master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light.” (Luke 16:8) That’s the heart of it. I’ll leave the reading of the rest to you. We are to be shrewd in our ministry and our evangelism, using the wiles of the culture around us. Here’s another passage that may convince you: “See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” (Mt 10:16)
What should we be doing to bring others to Christ? There are churches that don’t yet allow instruments to accompany them because Paul’s church in Philippi didn’t have one. What about us? How do we use the culture around us to draw the community to Christ?
On November 3rd. 17.000 people gathered for worship at the Forum in Los Angeles. Who was the leader? Would you be shocked to learn it was Kanye West? One 17 year old, interviewed following the service, said, “I’ve never been in church before in my life. I’ve just never considered it. I guess I’ll have to be open to God now.”
We aren’t going to gather tens of thousands, but we can be children of the light even while using the wiles of the children of the age to bring the message of hope and eternal life to a people who desperately need Jesus. So may it be with us. Amen.