Luke 12:13-21, Poor rich fool
The story must have circulated that a farmer not far from Christ’s old home in Nazareth had made it big. Talk about a tycoon, about a richly blessed man, his old ample barns weren’t big enough—he had to build new ones. It half sounds like he took early retirement when he had completed his year’s work because he said, "Well, you have enough to keep you going for years so relax and take your ease." But the very day he retired—that night—he died, and people would have gone around saying how well he had done and how much he had left behind, so much more than even they had imagined. He had possessions by the trainload. Mercedes Benz vehicles in the garages, money bulging from bags shoved into cupboards and under beds, hand-made suits hanging in closets, hand-made shoes by the score under the beds, watches, big-name spectacles and George Clooney shades, Japanese cameras, and the like, scattered everywhere. Now that’s livin’!
Christ knew him well, stopped by his grave, glanced in the direction of his barns and before walking away he murmured, "Aahhh, fool!" We’re not to think that Christ begrudged him the blessings his Father had poured out on him. To Christ it was a sad spectacle and plainly stupid that a whole human life should be thrown away for so little. Something had happened to the man. Somewhere along the way he had confused possessions with life and somewhere along the way he got the impression that God’s gifts to him were only for him.
It isn’t only farmers that get confused. Singers, songwriters, movie makers and stars, politicians and policemen, judges and church-building preachers, university heads and world-travellers, authors and television personalities, doctors and the mass of us that claw our way in life toward independence and security—we miss the point too.
"Made it, Ma, top of the world!" says James Cagney in the movie White Heat, as he explodes the world under him.
I genuinely do think it tragic to imagine Christ with that awful honest sadness of his, looking at our graves, eyelids with a flicker of deep disappointment, whispering "fool". Calling us fools not because we had been rich or famous or that we were handsome or talented or beautiful—no, not because we were any of those, but because we were nothing toward God and toward others because we were something toward God.
This is fierce and piercing truth he tells. But what of those who don’t know what we know, haven’t heard as much as we have heard, haven’t had their eyes opened as we have had ours opened? They’ll come before God and they’ll be dealt with in a way that is righteous because no one gets a bad deal from God. But those of us that have heard and have received the call of God loud and clear—we’ve received something awful as well as something glorious. When God comes into our lives, hoarding and self-obsession is sinful stupidity! To invite this God and this Christ into our lives and continue to think that we can worship and serve ourselves is moronic. Poor fools. Poor rich fools.