Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Affluenza, Part 7: Rescued from Greed

By Josh Harris @

This is the final installment of our affluenza series, based on a sermon I gave looking at Jesus' parable of the rich fool in Luke 12. Having, in the previous posts, looked at the deception and destruction of greed, and ways we can be vigilant against it, I want to offer one final illustration in closing.

Our family is reading through C. S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia together. Right now we're reading The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, one of my favorite books. And last week as we were reading, we came to the part in the story where the very selfish and obnoxious boy Eustace Clarence Scrubb, who Lewis tells us almost deserved his name, is ruined by greed.

Eustace stumbles upon a dragon's lair that is filled with treasure, and he stuffs his pockets with jewels and diamonds. Then he falls asleep and wakes to find, to his horror, that while he slept with greedy dragonish desires in his heart, he was magically transformed into a dragon himself.

Later in the story we learn that Eustace can only turn back into a boy with the help of Aslan, the great lion who represents Jesus Christ. Aslan tells him that he has to "undress himself" of being a dragon. And so Eustace attempts this, but over and over as the dragon Eustace tries to shed his scaly skin, as he tears layer after layer off his body, he can't change himself. He's still a dragon. He can't undress his greed.

Finally Aslan says: "You can't do it yourself. I will have to undress you." And it's only when Eustace submits himself to the pain of having Aslan cut with his huge, sharp claws into his dragon flesh that Eustace is finally freed.

We are a lot like Eustace. We can only escape greed and every other sin by being rescued by Jesus Christ. He gave up his life on the cross as a substitute for our sin. He took the punishment for all of our sin, including the sin of greed and our idolatrous desires for possessions, upon himself. He died and he rose again, so that all who would believe in him—all who would believe that he is the greatest treasure that can be desired—would be freed to really live.

All of us need the Lord to slice through the layers of greed that we have taken on. We can't change by ourselves. We need to cry out to God to rescue us, to cut through the lies, to help us see that our resources are from him, that they belong to him, that our greatest good is not in hoarding them for ourselves, but in giving them away to bless others and to fulfill his work in the world. We must turn from greed and be rich toward God, so that one day we will not hear the sentence spoken over our lives: "You fool. You lived for what didn't matter," and instead be welcomed into eternal, lasting riches and treasure—and welcomed into the very presence of God himself.

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