There is an old joke about pastors to be wary when they have “gone from preaching to meddling.” The change takes place when the message goes from good moral stories and teachings about sin you don’t commit and starts interfering with your life. So today let me cut to the point - today I’m going to be meddling.
The old year is behind us and we’ve already reflected on the mistakes of the past year and the new year is ahead of us. More to the point, it is Epiphany Sunday, a day of revelation. We not only commemorate it as the coming of Wise Men, but also an illuminating moment, the realization of THE revelation. In Jesus Christ, God IS IN the world but that does not mean all IS RIGHT with the world.
At Jesus’ birth, there is Herod, ruler over the region of Judea. Herod, the fox, the head honcho, the top dog, his plans are for him and his own. He has worked hard to solidify his position for himself and his offspring. He has put together his own insurance plan for life, one of the few people who could do so. But a group of wise men arrive seeking a king and all is thrown into disarray. A little research reveals his insurance plan wasn’t as solid as he thought - in Bethlehem a stumbling block has arisen.
Suddenly we hear the cry: “FOOL!” Harsh words for certain, no one likes to be called such a name. Could Jesus have had Herod in mind when he told the story of the foolish rich man? “Fool! Tonight your soul will be required of you.” This is the reality of our mortality - our life is uncertain at best. No amount of insurance, investments or estate planning will ever secure for us an assurance for the future. You cannot possibly put together a portfolio that could insulate you from your mortality.
In recent months, I’ve been intrigued by the storylines of many tv series, ones such as "Dexter," "Breaking Bad," and “The Walking Dead.” They are shows that have examined what humans are capable of. But in truth, we have a more relevant, more real testimony from the previous century. A few years back I experienced an epiphany in reading Dr. ViktorFrankl’s book, “Man’s Search for Meaning.” It was his story and lessons from surviving the Nazi death camps.
“So let us be alert - alert in a two fold sense:
Since Auschwitz we know what [humanity] is capable of.
Since Hiroshima we know what is at stake. (179).”
The reality of mortality is part of our life which we can not escape, that we ignore at our own peril. Though I doubt few are because so much is unknown. Let's be honest, I doubt you missed the play on words in the title "Life Assurance." The Affordable Care Act has left many of us not knowing what is next. How will it effect our work and our lives? And our history is repeating itself throughout our world. But the epiphany of Frankl, that human being’s primary motivational force is the search for meaning, is what the story of the Wise Men and Herod tells us. It is the parable which Jesus told of the rich fool and we dare not forget that God gave us the greatest treasure in Jesus Christ. Consider your insurance and what assurance it truly gives, then consider that giving your life to God, to being generous not merely with wealth but your life. In Jesus alone we find true assurance of a life which God welcomes.