Summer At The Movies Part 2:
On Sunday 31st July at our morning service, we continued our Summer series 'Summer At The Movies'. In this blog you will find a summary of the talk and then some questions and reflections for you to think through on your own or to discuss in your small group.
To listen to the talk on-line, please click here.
To download the talk to listen to off line, please click here.
Tangled is a take on the story of Rapunzel. In the film she a princess who has been stolen and shut in the tower. She is found by a Flynn Ryder who is a thief and a vagabond. His dream is of “being somewhere warm and sunny on an island that he owns tanned and rested surrounded by enormous piles of money.” He thinks that that is a happy in life.
He has probably struggled all his life and decides to redress the balance. He wants a taste of the good life. He steals a crown, and cheats his accomplices because he doesn’t want to share.
Throughout our lives we have all had dreams, and often dream of being better off or having better stuff. A lack of money can cause all sorts of problems, but lots of it doesn’t seem to make people happier or better people, it usually comes at a cost.
It’s about profit and loss. For every profit there is a loss.
Jesus knew how we could be misled by this thinking things bring us happiness.
In Luke Chapter 12 verses 13 to 21 Jesus tells a story about a “rich fool” You can read this by clicking here.
It was triggered by someone coming up to Jesus because his brother wouldn’t share. He feels the injustice of his situation.
We see the injustice of our own situation. It can make us feel dissatisfied when we compare ourselves to others and want a bit of what they have.
When this man comes to Jesus with his complaint Jesus tells him to
“Be on your guard against all kinds of greed.”; suggesting that there are different kinds of greed. We may see greed in others but not recognise it in ourselves. We might see what others have and want it, or find it difficult to be generous; our hands quick to close on something for ourselves and slow to open in generosity to others. We fear not having enough, because we have lived through difficult times, or we may be caught up in the expectations of others. We might look at magazines or makeover programs and think that our lives should be more like that. Maybe we get caught up in trying to provide well for our family.
My dad did that; worked so hard to keep his family that he regretted not seeing his children grow up. Profit and loss.
Jesus tells the dissatisfied man that; “Life does not consist in an abundance of possessions…”
Most of us agree but still pursue stuff. But at what cost?
How many people on their death beds say “I wish I had spent more time at the office” or “If only I had made more money?” No, usually the regret is about not spending more time with family, or not achieving more.
Jesus says: Life does not consist in an abundance of possessions...
but instead consists of being rich towards God
These words frame the story of the rich fool.
It is not just about not being greedy but having the focus of being rich towards God.
In Tangled Flynn falls for Rapunzel. At the beginning of the film he is selfish; his life is all about gaining riches for himself and hang everyone else, but love changes everything. He turns from selfish to selfless, from selfishness to redemption.
So what does Jesus mean when he talks about being rich towards God?
Later Jesus talks about the need to let go of these concerns about life and wealth and encourages us to invest in love for God and love for others.
Followers of Jesus need to take this seriously. Jesus is calling for a change in focus, asking us not to put our energies into worrying about life, but trust that the God who loves you will take care of you. Love changes everything and if we really loved him we would invest in him and the things that he loves and that is people, not stuff. If you are not a follower of Jesus I think that you recognise that to focus on yourself doesn’t bring the satisfaction in life that you crave. Pursuit of wealth is like a chocolate covered cowpat. It looks tempting but when you get into it’s just… poop.
We know that the pursuit of wealth and greed is not a good thing but we sometimes sacrifice our friends, family or health on the altar of greed, thinking that we are making our lives and the lives of those we love better, but it is a lie. Sometimes to do it we compromise our faith.
What would it look like if we all guarded against all kinds of greed, did not act as though we believed that life is about things and were rich toward God and people?
Questions and Reflections (for you to think about on your own or to discuss in your small group)
1. What are the issues is it that this talk raises for you?
2. What were your dreams as a child, a teenager and as an adult?
3. Did you recognise any kinds of greed in yourself? Do you know what makes you crave these things?
4. I have friend who was once challenged on his lack of ambition.
He told them all that all he wanted was enough to be able to be generous.
What do you think of this philosophy?
5. Do you find is easy or hard to be generous? Why do you think that is?
6. what does enough look like to you?
7. What do you think Jesus meant when he tells us to be rich toward God
8. Have you ever seen the cost of pursuing wealth? If so what does it teach you?
9. The story of the rich fool makes it clear that you can’t take it with you when you go, so what will you take with you and what will you leave behind?