Wednesday, 25 February 2009

"When Success Is Failure"

Orange Standard Article 3 ~ February 2009

Jesus told a parable:
"...a rich man's farmland produced heavy crops ... he said, Soul you have plenty of goods ... Eat, drink and have a good time. But God said to him. You fool this very night you will be asked for your soul. Then who is going to possess all that you have prepared. This is what happens to the man who hoards things for himself and is not rich where God is concerned" (Luke 12: 13-20)

The success story is always interesting! Local boy makes good has its appeal for it excites, stimulates, as it gives hope to the aspirant whose dream of emulating a star in sport, music, art and business is fired up with what they have achieved.

This story of Jesus was of success without a happy ending. The man had his priorities wrong. It is an unusual story for Jesus who was always slow to condemn. He often found reason to treat gently those likely to be treated harshly. He was quick to aid the ill regarded and devalued. He loved children and their distinctive actions and reactions were used to teach necessary lessons to adults.

A man of the people he chose working men to be his disciples and close companions in His ministry. He recognised qualities in them needed to make people aware of the plan and purpose of God for mankind. He set standards for them and valued their successes as His representatives in their work and witness for Him.

Success to them and the man of the parable was very different. He had a bumper harvest and thought of building bigger barns in expectancy of continuing good fortune. He must have impressed others by his hard work and the gain from it. But to God he was a fool and his folly was that he had a wrong view of life and its purpose. He valued it by possessions, and regardless of what he had been taught about God and the much greater benefits that come by faith in Him. He was broadly minded and Soul absent-minded.

His thinking is so much that of the great number of people today that this story has permanence, or continuous relevance.

It is the reason why the Gospel must be preached so that people hear of the provision God has made for them in Jesus Christ, His person and work, and what His life, death and resurrection means for humanity.

There is the thought in a little prayer of St Augustine, "Thou, O God, hast made us for thyself and we cannot rest until we rest in Thee."

Rev. Canon Dr. S.E. Long

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