Henry Neufeld spoke about Exodus 32:7-14, in which Moses argued with God not to destroy the Israelites for casting an idol of a golden calf. Fear motivated them to ask for an idol — a substitute for God — when Moses was absent. The second commandment applies to us too: the bronze sculpture of the charging bull on Wall Street has been called an idol of our capitalistic culture of nearly unregulated greed. What causes us to turn away from God and pursue an idol? Henry also tackled the challenging text in the Parable of the Shrewd Manager from Luke 16:1-13. As a competitor admires the competition, the rich man recognized the cleverness of the manager in marking down the debts to make friends who could help him later. Jewish peasants were subject to taxes from the Temple, Herod and Rome that they could scarcely bear. The manager isn’t commended for cheating, but for wisely reducing the burden on the rich man’s debtors. The Pharisees are condemned by Jesus for squandering the tithes & offerings as well as the teachings of God by imposing a strictness of endless rules that God will not own [see the hymn, There’s a Wideness In God’s Mercy]. Their church, their status and the law became their golden calf — their idol. Can modern churches really justify spending millions on physical facilities and property? The shrewd manager isn’t meant to encourage dishonesty, but points out the wisdom of using worldly resources to help others. If you are untrustworthy with your worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven? Henry left us with two questions:
1.Can we get God to change his mind, like Moses did?
2.The wealth we have is the good news of a new Kingdom — what are we doing with that wealth?