This week’s sermon was on Yertle the Turtle, not a Seuss story that I am particularly familiar with. As three of our members read some of the pertinent parts, I was struck by the idea that it was a particularly pertinent weekend to hear the story of a turtle building his kingdom on the backs of other turtles. I stayed up much too late on Saturday night reading about the election in Iran. If you haven’t been following the story, Andrew Sullivan’s blog has a lot of great information.
Yertle built his tower of turtles so that he could be the highest and therefore the ruler of everything. The scripture text was from The Sermon on the Mount, and, of course, what our pastor pointed out was that Yertle’s main problem was coveting. He described it as “fondling other people’s things in your mind.” I think that the people closest to me would definitely call me out on my coveting issues. It’s not that I want their bigger houses or their in-laws or their fathers or their jobs. I just wish for the simplicity that other people’s lives have – the in-laws who like them, the fathers who are alive, the jobs that aren’t constantly under some form of budget crunch. I really don’t feel as if I want their particular things. I just want my things to be more. I guess that makes me more like Yertle than I would really want to admit. The title of the post is what Yertle continually said as he built his tower higher. I would love to be able to be the ruler of all that I already have, and for that to be enough.
I don’t have a copy of this week’s sermon in front of me, but I know that this is where the Sermon on the Mount comes in. This is exactly why Jesus came here – not just to give us eternal life, but abundant life here on earth. I am not living in abundance when I am focusing on what I don’t have. The sermon ended with the exhortation that we are to look for those who are lowly and help raise them up rather than to be looking for more for ourselves.
Our church has started a program that has to do with giving money to overseas missions in a more intentional way. There was an article in the paper about it, and in the article, our pastor was quoted as saying, “One of the most basic Christian principles is giving out of your need. That means that if you are lonely, Christ calls us to befriend someone. If you are depressed, find someone to cheer up. Trouble staying sober? Sponsor another. Finding it difficult to not have someone forgive you? Forgive someone that doesn’t deserve it . . . And to this the point of where we are now: needing to make more money to thrive? Then give more of it away to what God is doing in the world.”
I am pretty sure that that is also what the Sermon on the Mount is talking about: contentment, caring for others, giving generously. Not out of our own strength but in response to God’s great gifts to us. And that’s where I get caught up, because I just keep on seeing God’s great gifts for everyone else. So I have decided to follow our pastor’s advice and start thinking of ways to give out of my own needs. I hang back and live out of fear that people (and God) don’t really want to be around me. I am going to try to reach out to people in the same condition so that I can see how much I have been given.
I loved your responses to last week’s sermon. Anybody got any thoughts on choosing contentment or giving out of your own need? I love hearing how people live out some of these principles in practical ways.