What’s in a word?
Charlie Chaplin's Little Tramp did a table dance unlike any other. Two buns impaled by two forks(one each) became a lovely ballerina's slippers, while Charlie's expressive face made the dance become real.
Funny, how changing a word's shape can bend its meaning to a totally different direction. “A bun dance” also spells abundance, but in three pieces, doesn't even suggest the idea of plenty.
Most folks wouldn’t recognize abundance if it danced up and kicked them in the nose. We think of it as “plenty of stuff.” We have no abundance until we have enough, plus a bit more, but the more we have, the more we want, making the pursuit of abundance a perpetual, frustrating quest.
We needn’t point the bony finger of condemnation for greed at Gates or Buffett. Anyone who has watched toddlers playing together with a few toys has seen human greed in action. Each wants what the other has, usually escalating the dispute until one baby gets bopped with a toy and breaks into a passionate squall. And the adult version of this turf-war differs only in scale and style.
Luke 12:13-23 ESV Someone in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me." (14) But he said to him, "Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?" (15) And he said to them, "Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." (16) And he told them a parable, saying, "The land of a rich man produced plentifully, (17) and he thought to himself, 'What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?' (18) And he said, 'I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. (19) And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.' (20) But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?' (21) So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God." (22) And he said to his disciples, "Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. (23) For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing."
While Jesus’ words carry divine authority, most people dismiss them as impractical or archaic wisdom with no relevance to us. He was, after all, the Ultimate Idealist. We're used to sitting in church while the collection basket circulates for this need or that, thinking, “They don't have enough of my money already?” While the preacher harps on laying up treasure in heaven, we can’t think past, “A bit more treasure here on earth would be nice.”
This is a test ...
What about some cultural relevance here? Back in Bible times the church didn’t have to pay for elaborate campuses and over-paid preachers.
Now I must inquire as to your reaction to the above, stupid, ridiculous, absurd statement. You passed the test if your reaction was something like, “Say what?!”
Don’t like tests? Neither do I, but God does. Faith is by its very nature a test, as it is quite unnatural for us after we graduate from infancy. Maybe that’s what Jesus meant when he said, “Give the kids a break, and let them come to me, as heaven’s kingdom is filled with people of such child-like faith. Listen up people! Unless you welcome God’s kingdom with the wide-eyed innocence and faith of a little child you won’t enter it.” (my paraphrase)
While Scripture treats giving as a principle, and not a law, generosity is part of the new nature Jesus bought for us without balking at the cost to himself. And while giving liberally is a principle, gratitude is a mandate! As we pray for God to transform us into his Son’s image, dare we pick-and-choose what parts of his image we want in ourselves? Jesus gave his all to reconcile us to his Father. Can we do any less in gratitude for his sacrifice?
I’ve found a funny coincidence among church-goers: Those who want greater wealth are most often quite satisfied with their spiritual condition. And those who long for greater resemblance to Jesus are most often quite satisfied with their material possessions.
Everyone who hopes for eternity with Christ would do well to ask which of those two people they are. Anyone whose top priority is not Christ-likeness will not find God’s Son a very welcoming host. And any silver-tongued devil who thinks he can talk his way into heaven will end up with more than a casual acquaintance with the fiery-tongued devil who occupies the fiery lake.
Maybe the next time we glance sideways at someone’s ostentatious lifestyle, we will remember to double-check our own attitude. Is it Christ-like? What do we do with our discretionary funds? Since we lack that degree of wealth, how do we know we’d spend our money more wisely if we had more of it?
Once upon a time I earned a good living. Did I give beyond the tithe, laying my treasure up in heaven? No, I bought stuff. Did I think critically of those who enjoyed their greater material wealth? To my shame, I did. Would I act differently if I now came into wealth? I’d like to think so, but in view of my spending habits back then, I doubt that will happen. Do I want more? I’d be lying if I said that never crosses my mind, but when it does I look to what Apostle Paul said, “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.” Am I there yet? Not by a long shot! I’m about as close as most other fallible Christ-followers who long to resemble him more.
At least I know that a-bun-dance has nothing to do with buns and forks. Rather, it is what we have in Christ Jesus, whether we know it or not.