From: Jessica Patton
When I feel frustrated by the state of the world, I find some of today’s scripture passages to be downright depressing. I see the wrong people pursuing the wrong policies that cause harm to the vulnerable and find it difficult to take comfort from Psalm 49.16-17, “Be not afraid when a man becomes rich...For when he dies he will carry nothing away; his glory will not go down after him.” So basically if I just wait for everyone to die, it will all be okay? How terribly encouraging. Or today’s passage from Matthew 6, which tells us not to lay up treasures on earth but in heaven so our hearts can be in the right place—it can read as yet another example of focusing on the afterlife while being indifferent to the present. And if I’m really feeling depressed, I start empathizing with Karl Marx’s comment that “religion is the sigh of the oppressed people...It is the opium of the people.” Why bother about what’s happening now when the Scriptures tell me everything will be better when we’re all dead?
BUT! Praise the Lord for the Holy Spirit, who keeps me from wallowing in the mess in my head for too long! Because, of course, I do believe we are to take comfort from God’s promises of eternal justice, but I also think the Psalmist and Jesus in the Matthew passage are encouraging us to two specific actions in the present. First, in Matthew 6.20, we are called to actively “lay up” treasures in heaven. And while how we do that could be the topic for an entire sermon, I think it can be construed from these verses that one way to do so is to use your earthly treasures for heavenly good—giving of your finances, time and skills to work towards justice here on earth. Secondly, I think we can turn around the Lord’s rebuke to the wicked in Psalm 50 and do the opposite: so instead of seeing a thief and being pleased with him (v. 18) and giving our mouths “free rein for evil” (v. 19) and “slander” (v. 20), we should neither steal nor condone those who do; neither speak evil nor encourage those who slander. We are to act with righteousness here and now, while also hopefully and anxiously awaiting God’s coming to judge the earth (Psalm 50.3-4).
I am wife to Brian and mother to Ayelet, Oliver and Baby Bump #3. I love traveling, reading, cooking, sailing, CrossFit, camping, coffee and people - actually just life in general, usually!