Scripture: Acts 14:8-18; John 13:31-35
Sermon: Wondering about Wonders
By Pastor Todd Buurstra
Today I’m wondering about wonders. But in my wondering, I’m going to wander, Jon Stewart calls it, a long walk–for there are a few steps to get to my point. So, lace up those shoes.
As soon as Paul commands the cripple to stand up, the Lycaonians go nuts. Next thing Paul and Barnabas know is that the people are shouting The gods have come down! And Zeus’ priest is honoring them with a garland and sacrifice. So Paul and Barnabas tore their clothes and ran among them shouting, Don’t do it! We’re one of you. It’s the living God who healed him!
The people of Lystra interpreted God’s miracle as coming from their gods. Under-standable, since it was their worldview that Zeus and Hermes occasional visited them. I thought, have we seen a miracle lately for which we need to give God glory? And then I heard that the Dow Jones is up 70%, and bank profits up 170%! 4400 points up in little over a year. Wow!
But in our secular worldview we give credit for this to: market forces, the great American entrepreneurial spirit, the stimulus package, you name it. Yes, but does God get any credit? I don’t expect CNN to say, Praise God the Dow hit 11,000!, but do we? I think it’s critical to adopt a Christian worldview whereby we see God’s fingerprints on all miracles from melanoma healings to market healings. James teaches, God is the giver of every good and perfect gift.
Why is it critical to see God’s fingerprint on the market miracle?
Most simply, where we see God’s fingerprint we see God’s claim. Just as if I lost this pen, and you liked it so that you lied, Hey, that’s mine. We could test our claims by testing the fingerprints on it. In the same way, God’s fingerprints tell us that the market is God’s.
So what is God’s claim on the market? Today’s lectionary reading in Acts tells us that miracles are a sign of the living God, not of people, and John tells us the supreme sign of the living God is love. So God’s design for any miracle is love. In Acts it was love for the cripple, in John the miracle is love for his disciples. We’re still walking. I’m not quite there yet.
How can American businesses love? Christian ethicists say that social love is really, sorry to say, Glenn Beck, economic justice. Economic justice is all through the Bible, though it doesn’t have to mean bigger government. Earlier in Acts the believers shared all things in common. So we can say that God’s purpose in our market miracle is prosperity for all.
How we doing with this market fairness? Well, we have a record bonus pool on Wall Street…even though many fewer people have houses and jobs. My read of history says we came out of the Depression pulling for each other. And so, as you’ve heard me quote before, in 1967 the average CEO made 27 times the wages of his average worker. Today? The AP reports it’s over 427 times. Our society is worshiping economic gods! As Jon Stewart asked Jim Cramer last year, “Any time you sell people the idea that, sit back and you’ll get 10 to 20% on your money, don’t you always know that that’s going to be a lie?” When are we going to realize in this country that our wealth is work? In Gandhi’s list of seven social sins, I believe this is called wealth without work. That’s what happens when you miss the fingerprints on the miracle.
Natsuko worked for the president of Shiseido America in the mid-80s. Mr. Hamaguchi was such an effective leader that Shiseido turned their first profit in the US in 20+ years. Even though he didn’t speak any English, every day he walked the factory floor smiling at the workers to say, Haro. Haro… Haro. They loved him. Now he made only 10 times more than they because he believed that they were the key to success. So they would do anything for that man.
I don’t know how you live by God’s loving claim on our market miracle. Do you write your senator? Do you divest from companies that pay their CEOs like gods? Do you vote for candidates that pursue a more just vision from either the right or left? All I know is God did it.
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