Some Native American tribes conduct a lavish ceremonial feast called Potlatch in which possessions are given away and destroyed. "Why would anyone do that?" Their purpose is
to display wealth and enhance the family's prestige. It is celebrated at many of the important events in life complete with music and dancing. Family prestige is enhanced, not when they show their wealth, but when it is given away. The more that is lavished on others, the greater the prestige. American missionaries once had potlatch banned, deeming it useless and wasteful. However, the custom resumed and is still practiced today. Perhaps there is a great Biblical truth hidden here.
A rich, spiritually frustrated, young ruler came to Jesus seeking eternal life. Jesus told him, "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." (Mark 10:17-21
) Riches were his god, and Jesus knew he needed
to rearrange his priorities. The young man was unwilling however, viewing it as sort of a "financial apocalypse". Jesus on the other hand was trying to have a celebration...a Christian version of the potlatch. (This is where Christian's get their term, "potluck" dinners. When did our version become "luck" instead of lavish??)
· Jesus was celebrating the wealth of His Father!
He was saying, "'Rich',
give it all away! There is no limit to the riches of My Father. He will take care
of us. Prove His wealth. Follow Me!"
· Giving the wealth to the poor
was in keeping with the true Spirit of God.
Jesus isn't wasteful. After miraculously feeding 5,000 with two fish and five
loaves of bread, He commanded the disciples to gather up what was left.
)· Giving away his wealth enhanced his prestige.
In the eyes of the world,
he was throwing it all away, but the rich young ruler instantly gained stature
in the eyes of God!
In the world, if you're lucky you might get rich. In the Kingdom of God, our Father will lavish the riches of His grace upon us in Christ Jesus!