WARNING: THIS PASSAGE MIGHT BE DETRIMENTAL TO YOUR RETIREMENT
Wouldn’t it be helpful if the writers of the Bible would give us bold signs like this before we read sections, if nothing more than to prepare us for what is most likely an uncomfortable read. This passage is one of those uncomfortable reads, especially for the preretirement people. Because at first glance this passage seemingly goes against the very principles of retirement, to save so that you can live comfortably in your retirement. Going deeper into this passage we can see that the warning has very little to do with our retirements and everything to do with our relationship with God.
The Characters that we have in this pericope are Jesus speaking to two brothers who are feuding over their inheritance. Jesus tells this parable that shows a farmer who looks to be a great farmer and business man. In fact he is so good he is able to build and store enough goods to last him well into a long retirement. The problem that the parable shows is that the man in his pursuit to gain his wealth forgot to remember God. And while he attained great wealth and comfort in this world he would not be rightfully prepared for the next.
So the problem that the passage lays out is not a warning about what we store up for our retirement, rather it is about our faithfulness to God, or rather where have we given ourselves over so that we might be able to do work for God. This is the root of what we call Social Justice. While the term Social Justice is loaded with various meanings, in our tradition Social Justice refers to the things we do for others and our world as an expression of faith to God.
When theologians talk about grace and salvation, they do so in terms of a simple fact that God has given us grace, but we have a responsibility that comes with the gift of grace and that is to give back. In fact, one of the great errors of the farmer is the fact that God had given him a talent for caring for the land and raising crops so that he might be able to feed his community. Instead, the farmer used the gifts God gave him for his own greedy agenda.
I wrote my warning at the beginning of the passage to be provocative despite anything else and as you can see from this article the warning is not really accurate. The real warning is both much deeper and more far-reaching. In actuality, the warning should read:
WARNING: THIS PASSAGE REQUIRES YOU TO GIVE AS MUCH AS YOU GET
Rev. Dr. Bryan James Franzen