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Sunday, September 9, 2018

“Dual Citizenship”

Rev. Stephen E. Stults
St. Paul’s Anglican Church
15th Sunday in Trinity 2018
Sept. 9, 2018

“No man may serve two masters.” Matt. 6.24, from our Gospel selection for the 15th Sunday after Trinity.   The  accompanying thought is: “You cannot serve God and mammon.”

What is “Mammon?”  It is an Aramaic word used by Christ twice in the Gospels, in Mat. 6:24 and Luke 16:13. It means “wealth or riches” and implies the concept of something secure, on which one can rely.[i]

From these two statements come the most difficult part of being a Christian on this fallen Earth. We are, of necessity, placed here to live and to be shining examples of God’s kingdom on earth. Yet, we must live in our economic culture.  Money is, by necessity, the thing that makes the world go ‘round. Despite being immersed in our secular culture, we must not take our cues from it. 

This is hard, nearly impossible. While we cannot serve God and mammon, or serve two masters, it seems that we must to do it. Obviously, it takes money to buy wine and Communion wafers…

This brings us to the idea our state in this world; dual citizenship.  We are told by God’s Holy Word that our true citizenship is in Heaven.  We are told that we will inherit the Kingdom of Heaven when we no longer exist on Earth. Hebrews 11:13 tells us the great figures in the bible: “confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.”  Also, Hebrews 11:16 says: “6 But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city”.
Most of the evil in this world comes from the misuse or “twisting” of God’s gifts to mankind. Everything God gives us is good: food, wine, power, money, interaction between man and woman, etc.  It is man’s fallen-ness, along with Satanic suggestions and temptations, that “twist” each of these gifts into evils, in the form of overindulgence or exploitation.  Healthful use of wine becomes alcoholism, wholesome marital relations become adultery and pornography, and money becomes the power to manipulate and enslave.

Everything man has is a gift from a loving and merciful God.  Even our ability to achieve and to accumulate wealth is a gift. Yet, when we become covetous of wealth, it becomes an evil. Thus, we should not accumulate to the point of obsessiveness.  To many who have made wealth accumulation their life’s goal, whatever wealth they have is never enough. Yet, Christ tells us in Mat. 6:25 to “Take no thought for your life…” While we are to plan and prepare prudently, we are not to obsess over our wealth, or even the lack thereof.  We should not be consumed by concern for our material well-being.  Christ wants us to be “as wise as serpents but as harmless as doves.” (Mat. 10:16)

Yet, Christianity is not a call to stupidity or to carelessness, but it is a call to Godly wisdom.  When we recognize that all we have belongs to God, that is wisdom. When we know that we are simply stewards of all we have, that is wisdom. When we agree with the Prayer Book as it says, “Almighty God, in whom we live and move and have our being”, that is wisdom. Proverbs 1:7 tells us: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”

Let us understand and give thanks for the knowledge that all things belong to God. 
When we make an offering, remember that we are merely returning a portion of what is His.

“All things come of Thee, O Lord, and of thy known have we given Thee.”

[i] Dictionary of the Bible, Grant and Howley, Ed.,Thomas Nelson, New York, 1963

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