Sunday, February 26, 2017

Why we Must Rest in God

Matthew 6: 24, 33 (TEV): Resting in God
24 [Jesus said],  “You cannot be a slave of two masters; you will hate one and love the other; you will be loyal to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
33  “Instead, be concerned above everything else with the Kingdom of God and with what he requires of you, and he will provide you with all these other things.”
The only surviving son of a get-rich-quick-focused father, Milton Hershey was brought up from difficult financial circumstances. With a limited education (Hershey attended seven different schools and never progressed past the fourth grade), and after a failed attempt at becoming a printer, Milton took a job in a small candy shop where he humbly worked as an apprentice and discovered his true vocation. As years passed, Milton built a candy-making empire and even had a town named after him, Hershey, Pennsylvania. Milton met, fell in love with, and married Catherine Sweeney, and they lived a loving life together. But Catherine and Milton were sadly unable to conceive. As a result, Catherine suggested they build a school for orphaned boys. The Milton Hershey School opened in 1909 and still operates today. Throughout his life, and after Catherine’s tragic death in 1915, Milton Hershey continued to amass a fortune and generously gave it away: He grew his school for disadvantaged children, donated money to all area churches and charities, and treated his workers with dignity, justice, and love. Milton Hershey had it all, but he never lost focus on what really mattered, building up the kingdom of God.
Jesus, addressing his disciples in the above passage, teaches the importance of serving God and neighbor above all else. Jesus says, “You cannot serve both God and money” (Matthew 6:24). Adopting a money-centered life is an easy and distracting temptation in our world. We are a society of social ladder climbers. Through effort, education, and dedication to our work, we can achieve a better life. The temptation, however, (and it is about this that Jesus warns his disciples) is to focus on our success and forget about loving God and neighbor. As an antidote to the modern-day siren’s song of financial success and social status seeking, Jesus gives us the same message he does to his first-century audience: “. . . [B]e concerned above everything else with the Kingdom of God and with what he requires of you, and he will provide you with all these other things” (Matthew 6:33). When we instead focus on the kingdom of “me,” the kingdom of “want,” and the kingdom of “self service,” we live to serve our own ambitions and appetites and forget the needs and necessities of others. Jesus’ entire ministry was others focused. And if we hope to follow Jesus’ “way, truth, and life” (John 14:6), we are to abandon our self-interest and focus on serving others in the small spaces of our lives.
Milton Hershey was raised a Mennonite and married a Roman Catholic. His chronicler writes:
In 1935, [Milton Hershey] gave each of the five churches in Hershey a gift of $20,000 [estimated at $400,000 in 2017].  [This gift] helped many of  the churches to pay off debts they had incurred during the [Great Depression]. Milton Hershey told those who strived to convert him [to a specific denomination] that he simply followed the Golden Rule all of his life. (Coyle)
Hershey was a true Christian at heart. And although he did not adhere to one Christian denomination, he followed Christ’s call. In every dollar he made, he was generous and loving to those in need. His life’s witness encompassed “[concern] above everything else with the Kingdom of God and with what he requires” (Matthew 6:33).
We can ask ourselves the following question: How can we take the gifts God has given us and make a better world for those around us? Although the answer varies each day and in each situation, God’s grace is always abundant and steadfast. And it is by God’s grace that we can say “yes” to serving others and making our world a better place.
I pray that our lives become a living song of devotion to God, so that we sing as David sings in Psalm 62: “My soul be at rest in God alone, from whom comes my hope” (6).

Have a blessed week!
Stan



Works Cited
Coyle, Millie Landis. "Hershey Derry Township Historical Society." Milton Snavely

Hershey. Hershey-Derry Township Historical Society, n.d. Web. 26 Feb. 2017.