The story told by Luke starts with a guy asking Jesus to resolve a family dispute: “Make him give me my share.”
Jesus resists this request. There is no sense that the guy is asking Jesus to help him understand. There is no sense that the brother is doing anything wrong. It’s more like a playground: “Make him share with me.”
Jesus warns the man, and the crowd, about the danger of greed. The desire for more of anything. The dissatisfaction with what I have. The sense that the more I have, the better off I will be. The more I have, the better I will be. The more I have the happier or more influential or more comfortable or more healthy I will be.
Then Jesus tells a story.
A farmer has a great year. So much so that he is out of storage. He has no place to put it all. He has to decide: “What do I do with all this grain?”
It’s a valid question, one that many of us face. We get a bonus, we get a raise. We get zucchini, we get tomatoes. We get a promotion, we get a bill paid off. We get more likes on Facebook, more influence, and we say, “What should I do with this?”
The man makes what seems like a wise business decision. He can tear down his buildings and build new buildings. He can store more. He can give jobs to builders. What could be wrong? The choice that makes sense, particularly in our culture of individual success, is a choice that God wasn’t happy with.
What’s wrong is one little word in the story that Jesus tells.
The man talks about “my” crops, “my barns”, “my” surplus, “my” comfortable retirement. The assumption that the man makes is that the abundant crop is all his. It’s given to him, the man assumes, for his own comfort, for his own security.
“Fool”. That’s what God says. “Your life will be demanded tonight.”
The demand in the middle of the night is not a made up thing. It’s a demand that I see in the hospital all the time. In the middle of the night, a couple days after the big birthday party, there is a brain bleed. In the middle of success, there something goes wrong with our bodies. In the middle of the night, the week after retirement, my dad had his first stroke.
And we have to wrestle with our priorities.
It’s not that he was being judged with death for thinking about keeping everything and retiring. Not at all. It’s that his death was going to show the folly of his choices.
Here’s the heart of the story. God doesn’t say, “You are dying because of stuff.” He’s saying that more stuff doesn’t keep you from dying.
So what do you want to invest in?