Godliness Combined with Contentment
Rev. Thomas Cary Kinder
The Congregational Church of the United Church of Christ,
September 25, 2016 Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Psalm 146; I Timothy 6:6-19; Luke 16:19-31
It matters how we live in the material world. We risk wasting this one precious life if we do not find and choose the way of life that really is life. We risk feeling lost and without ultimate meaning when we are alive and we risk deep regret and anguish when we die.
Today’s passages speak passionately about this. The scriptural messages are clear, but even devoted Christians have a hard time living up to them. The author of I Timothy gives us a formula that could help: “Godliness combined with contentment.” Godliness and contentment are very different qualities, and yet if we hold them together in balance they point to the sacred way like divining rods that we use to find a spring of living water.
A Pentecostal preacher from South Africa came to a church near here several years ago and boasted during his sermon about how abundantly God had blessed his home congregation. He described their new building and parking lot full of Mercedes and BMWs. He then talked about how God had called them to share their riches with the poor. The way they were doing it, he said, was to go into the poverty stricken townships and preach the prosperity gospel, saying to the poor, believe in Jesus and you will become rich like us.
I wonder if that is what Jesus had in mind with his parable today. I wonder if what he wanted was for the rich man to go out after his daily sumptuous feasts and preach to Lazarus as he lay starving on the ground with the dogs licking his sores, promising that he could be rich if he just believed.
The author of I Timothy warns of the danger of the way the South African preacher was thinking. Continue reading Sermon, September 25, 2016