The Gospel reading this week is a challenge to preachers everywhere. In Luke 16 Jesus tells the story of a dishonest manager who is about to be fired for his mismanagement of his wealthy boss's money. To stave off starvation because he is just not up for ditch digging or pan handling he goes to some of the people who owe his boss money and tell them to cut their bills. The boss commends the manager for his shrewdness.
The implication of the parable is that Jesus approves of the manager giving away his boss's money. The good guy is a bad guy in this story! What are we going to do with this?
I would start by saying that we shouldn't just avoid the story. The more a Bible reading makes us cringe, the more important it is that we look at it seriously and see what it is teaching us.
Who do we identify with? Probably the rich boss whose money is being given away. We take money so very seriously in our society, we can't help but get upset when it appears to be misappropriated. But what if the rich boss is God? What if we are the dishonest managers who have been living it up on our boss's tab? We've been putting a lot of money into ourselves - nice buildings, professional ministers who take care of us first. We've been using God's gifts to make our lives comfortable.
Now God is saying, "That's not what I had in mind." After all the church was created as a vehicle to spread God's mission of justice and peace. It can only justify its existence as long as the Gospel is being preached. So now we're in for it. God is going to heave us out on our ears and find someone else to spread that Gospel.
What do we do? We start giving away God's stuff. You know, the love, joy, peace, the forgiveness of sins, the keys to the kingdom, the invitation to the banquet. All the stuff that we've been keeping inside the church to keep it safe. Let's give it all away. Let's tell people that their debt to God has been canceled. We could even give away some of that stuff we've accumulated in God's name!
I think God would approve.