Thursday, December 4, 2008

Coveting Future Wealth

Ephes. 1:11-14 (ESV)
In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, [12] so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. [13] In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, [14] who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

In him we have obtained an inheritance. Just today as I was cleaning my office I began thinking like the prodigal son about my inheritance. When my dad retired from the ministry he gave me most of his books, but he kept the two sets I covet most: Luther’s Works, and the Church Fathers. My dad said he planned to read those in retirement, my mom says they are packed away in boxes. Truth is I have plenty to read any way, but they still would be nice. Someday I suppose I’ll have them. I won’t do anything for them. I’ll just wait around. Supposing I outlive my dad (miracle, I made it this long, but I see no reason why the miracle shouldn’t continue now that I am out of high school), I will one day go Phoenix, and pick them up. Sometimes I get anxious, and think about purchasing them now. Have two sets later on. But that seems silly. So I wait. I don’t do anything but covet my future wealth.
Perhaps that is the life of faith, coveting our future wealth. We have nothing to do, but go about our daily lives coveting our future wealth. Nothing to do, you don’t do anything for an inheritance it is given to you. Oh we have things to do in our daily lives, but that doesn’t much affect our future inheritance. Knowing what we have waiting for us may affect how we go about our daily lives though. Perhaps it makes us a bit more patient. Perhaps it makes us a little more willing to spread the wealth down here. It isn’t like we have to make this our best life now. We couldn’t if we wanted to. Hording wealth probably won’t make this life much better anyway. Our best life is waiting for us. We will inherit it because of Christ and his cross, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will. If we didn’t have Christ, we might have reason to try make this our best life now. Then again that might be reason to despair in and of itself. I have had a pretty good life I must say, and I tend to see it only getting better, especially when I get those books. But if I thought this was the best life could ever offer I might have ended it back in high school. (I’m telling you it was a miracle I made it out of there alive.)
Truth is we have obtained an inheritance by believing in Christ. We have been adopted of God. And some days I just sit around contemplating all that, coveting my future wealth, wealth I have now in Christ, but will know the full glory of it then. I think about that big mansion, I wonder who will staff it or if I have to clean up after myself. I determined that is the bit about angels. I think about the big feast with all the meat and wine. I don’t see any reason to believe there won’t be Scotch and Cigars after. And I imagine better than anything Cuba has to offer. So I tell you what, you go ahead and try have your best life now. I’ll wait on God’s good time. But I may give my dad a call soon, to see about those books.


steve martin said...

We can't clean up after ourselves...then it wouldn't be Heaven!

Maybe there won't be anything to clean up! (some kind of mystical auto clean-up mode)

Thanks for the reminder that our true inheritance, our true wealth, waits securely for us in Heaven, and will blow our minds what with our pitiful expectance.

Bror Erickson said...

Steve there is so much we don't know about heaven. But it sure is fun to speculate given what we do know. But what fun would living in a mansion be if you didn't have a wait staff?

steve martin said...

I guess you are right. Trouble is, I might be the wait staff!

Actually, that wouldn't be bad and it would definitely be better than inhabiting the warmer regions!

Anonymous said...

That sounds wonderful. I couldn’t help but to ponder my past Baptist/evangelical thought on this versus today as I believe what Luther said of the sacraments. Because in a negative way the way I use to think leads to what you are saying I believe. Because one WANTS to hope that it is true for me. It all turns on what does “were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit” mean?

Back in the day of Baptist religion I use to ponder this verse and similar ones to it in which a certain promise is given. Since baptism under that religion doesn’t “do anything” the question becomes, what is being sealed by the Holy Spirit mean. So you go looking for all kinds of in essence ‘signs and wonders’ of this sealing, that God has so sealed me so that I might treasure this promise. Those ‘signs and wonders’ or metrics of conversion or metrics whereby I might know God has acted in my favor upon me can range from high end charismatic things to signs of a changed life and so forth. Since baptism under that religion cannot be the Holy Spirit it shifts to where is the Holy Spirit whereby I “see” the seal for the promise. The thought under Baptist thinking, I recall it clearly under the tyranny of it was, “Oh, yes if I am sealed how wonderful those words do sound, but am I…”. Then the metric hunting starts. It was similar to when I use to go to my wife under tremendous day and night despair (near suicidal at times) for years over election and “am I really converted/born again” and say, “Honey how blessed it must have been for the prostitute to hear from the very lips of Jesus in front of her, the mouth of God, ‘Your sins are forgiven’. If I could only hear that, only his Word can release me.” Those were very dark days for me.

How blessed was the turning of this, and other, verses when I heard Luther on baptism. At first it seemed TOO good to be true, which is really unbelief and secret “surely I need to do something”.

I suppose the connection being that even under the Baptist religion I in essence coveted the promises like a poor kid outside of the home of a rich kid. What I didn’t realize was I was actually already inside the home of the rich kid and was now the rich kid too. How that seemingly pious faith which is really unbelief due to the non-sacramental doctrine makes one stand outside of the party and feast and covet what we think is not ours, when we should be inside coveting it as ours.



Brigitte said...

Thanks, Larry, for sharing. I know exactly what you are talking about.