We Need to Be Shrewd
Rev. Thomas Cary Kinder
The Congregational Church of the United Church of Christ,
September 18, 2016 Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Proverbs 8; Matthew 10:16-20; Luke 16:1-13
Jesus seems to be commending dishonesty in today’s parable in Luke, suggesting that we follow the example of the dishonest manager and get ahead in life by cheating and stealing. But Jesus called us to love our neighbor as ourselves and lay down our lives for one another. He would never promote injustice and dishonesty. So what is going on here?
The first clue is that this passage is made up of a parable followed by some proverbs, including the famous one from the Sermon on the Mount, “You cannot serve both God and mammon (or both God and material wealth).” Parables and proverbs were literary genres in the first century Middle East that belonged to what was known as wisdom literature.
Wisdom says in the book of Proverbs, “Happy is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates… For whoever finds me finds life and obtains grace from God.”
The purpose of Jesus’ parable is to help us grow and obtain grace, but wisdom teachers understand that it sometimes takes a puzzle or shock for our brains to awaken to a new insight or sense of urgency. Continue reading Sermon, September 18, 2016