Mladen Jovanovic is my friend who preaches for a church in Zagreb, Croatia, which was a center for benevolent work during the years of conflict between Serbians and Croatians. They resolved not to throw food to people out of the back of trucks, but to interview each recipient and listen carefully to each story. They also served people from both sides of the conflict without favoritism, much to the dismay of some.
One day a woman in a very nice fur coat showed up for food. She obviously had more than most, or had had more. They listened to her story of woe which was also a story of awakening. She and her family had lost everything, except their lives, when a missile hit their home and two cars. She had been an avid collector of expensive crystal items for years and she had a beautiful display of them in her living room. Once her little daughter picked up an especially valuable crystal cup and begged to drink out of it, but the mother reprimanded her severely and told her not to touch it ever again. She admitted that she even threatened to break her arm if she did! As she sat there before Mladen, in need of food for herself and her family, she said tearfully, “I should have let her drink out of it every day!”
Is there anything you are cherishing so much that it puts a barrier between you and others? Even between you and your mate or your children? More importantly, is there anything you cherish so much that it may actually challenge God’s place in your life? Has anything (including position, power and prestige) become an idol for you?
We may not have idols or “objects of worship” so obvious as Paul saw in Athens and mentioned in his speech recorded in Acts 17, but all of us in our prosperous nation are tempted to be greedy. Paul told the Ephesians that a greedy person is an idolater and does not have any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. (Ephesians 5:5) Later he added, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light . . . and find out what pleases the Lord.” (5:8-10)
Mladen told me that he told the lady, after hearing her story, that she was the preacher, that she now understood what Jesus taught about possessions and that he was the learner. Are you? Am I?
Article copyright (c) 2009 by Charles G. Mickey. All rights reserved.
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