Rev Susan Johnson, National Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada writes a regular column for each issue of Canada Lutheran.
ELCIC congregations are welcome to republish this material in their church publications. Please acknowledge its original publication by including the credit line:
Canada Lutheran, Month, Year, Volume# and Issue#
NATIONAL BISHOP'S TURN
Life and Prosperity
Living the Reign of God.” The cover story of this issue of Canada Lutheran is very challenging for us. How are we doing at living out our lives as disciples, at living the Reign of God? This question is at the heart of the call to spiritual renewal, the call to deepen our spiritual practices and grow closer to God as we pray, read, worship, study, serve, give and tell.
The sentence that struck me the most in the cover story was this: “Rather than following a culture that encourages us to live for our own convenience and comfort, he suggests that we will find more life and more joy by living like Jesus did, as though God’s kingdom is possible, here and now.” For me it really sums up the challenge that is before us. It’s the same challenge that Moses set before the children of Israel before they entered the promised land.
See, I have set before you today life and prosperity,
In the consumerist culture that surrounds us, the question of “give” is at the heart of the life and death choices we make in terms of following God. In our society our generosity towards ourselves is well-documented. Debt is at an all time high. We continue to strive for a “better way of life”, but at what cost? One sometimes wonders, who owns who? Do we own our possessions, or do they own us? Jesus spoke more about money and possessions than almost anything else. Even in his society, he understood that “where your money is, your heart will be also.”
The call to give, to practice generosity, is a major way that helps us grow out of the stranglehold that our money and possessions have over us. I know this is a life-long struggle for me. I have grown, over time, to be generous in terms of my giving to God. Over many years I have worked my way so that I give more than a tithe to support the work of our church. But I still go through periods of struggling with how much of a claim the remainder of my income has on me. I can get enslaved by my desire for nice things. I get teased (and supported!) about my love of shoes.
But when I am able to give my head and my priorities a shake, I have been able to return to balance, to health, and to life, by re-prioritizing how I use the gifts that God has given me. My therapy against selfishness, against mixing up my wants and my needs, is to give extra gifts to the church or other charities.
Mother Teresa once said, “Give until in hurts.” But perhaps another way of looking at it is to say, “Give until it no longer hurts.” Give until giving is a normal way of life. Give until you don’t have to think about being generous. Give until your priorities are back in line. Give until you choose life. Give until you are living the reign of God.
Canada Lutheran, April/May 2013
Rev. Susan C. Johnson, National Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada writes a regular column for each issue of Canada Lutheran.
How is Jesus calling you to tell? Who is God calling
you to share your faith with? What do you need to assist
you in growing in your ability to share your faith? Share