Sunday, August 11, 2013

Sermon Cliff Note: Every Choice Has a Future

Luke 12.29-34 [where your treasure is . . . ] and Isaiah 1.16-20 [9 imperatives lead the way to God’s vision of a changed society]

Every Choice Has a Future*

Most of us will not be remembered in the history books.  But history’s record is not merely that written down by human hand.  What the earth is today is the result of all it has been up to now.  And what the earth will be is being written by us, all of us, each alone and all together, in the now.

The Luke text rests on one single notion: stop worrying about getting so that we can focus on giving – our giving as a response to God’s giving.  

Jesus could not be more clear when he observes that where our treasure is – that is, where our focus, our energies, our attention, lies, there is to be found what we value.  We choose what we value, whether we realize it or not.  God would have us choose that which matters most.

Through the prophet Isaiah, God delivers 9 imperatives in 2 verses: look at Isaiah 1.16-17: wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow. 

In other words, clean up your act . . . vow to do better and do it . . . get rid of the bad stuff in you, in your life – God doesn’t want to see it anymore . . . say no to wrong . . . spend time – this valuable gift God has given you – learning, actually learning, how to do good . . . look for justice – search it out, work to make it happen . . . rescue those in need of rescue . . . stand up for the children who have little in the way of love . . . shout for the elderly who have no one to stand up for them . . .


Choose who you will be and how you will be.

Every single choice you make has a future, says God.

Science speaks of two concepts that have application: the butterfly effect and the law of unintended consequences.  The butterfly effect, at its simplest, holds that the flapping of the wings of a butterfly in Brazil may be a cause of a later hurricane or tornado.  How it works is complex, but the idea is fairly simple: small, barely noticeable acts, can and do have far-reaching consequences.

The law of unintended consequences addresses outcomes or consequences that were not intended by a purposeful action.  In other words, what happens is not always what I meant to happen.  Sometimes the opposite of what I hoped happens.  Sometimes what I wanted to happen actually does happen, but so do other things that I didn’t plan on – good and bad.

Every choice has a future – and we cannot always know what the outcome of our choices will be.  The point of this, however, is not to freeze us into indecision, for as we are reminded in Isaiah, the path before us is fairly clear.  To step off that path and walk in our own ways rather than God’s is to invite the unintended consequences of our choosing to take hold.

Every choice we make has a future.  And our choosing, just like the flapping of the wings of a butterfly in Brazil reaches far beyond ourselves and travels we know not where, for the future is a far and distant country to us.

In that country live children we will never meet.  Whether they will know lives of peace or war . . . lives of plenty or want . . . breathable air or dark days that more resemble the nighttime . . . whether they will be seen as treasures or disposable garbage . . . we are choosing that future now.

Friends, every choice has a future and we are making ours and theirs right now.  Please God that we choose wisely and well.  Amen.

*Shout out to Walter Bruggemann in his commentary on Isaiah for the title.

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