The United Nations and the United States
Dr. Jim Denison
Why is the United Nations at odds with the United States?
We were instrumental in founding the UN. The term “United Nations” was first coined by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The organization was created under American leadership, and is headquartered in New York City.
Other permanent members of the UN Security Council include Britain, France, the Russian Federation, and China, each of whom we aided during World War II at the cost of over 400,000 American lives.
Yet most members of the UN have continued to criticize the American position on disarming Iraq. Why?
It’s over purpose.
Europe is committed to socialism, America to capitalism. But there’s more.
Europe affirms secularism passionately, while America is the most religious democracy on earth. Europeans in the main reject moral absolutes and judgments, and find President Bush’s description of an “axis of evil” to be contemptible.
Europe is committed to a collective identity through the UN. Two nationalism-based World Wars have caused Europeans to conclude that national identities lead to war. America believes as strongly in our distinct national identity as Europe does in its collective existence.
And Europe is committed to pacifism, another result of the World Wars fought on its soil. America believes that confrontation is sometimes tragically necessary.
World events are being dictated by purposes. They always are.
What is true of nations is true of their people. Today we will watch as two life purposes go to war with each other. And we will choose our side. Choose well.
You will keep only what you give to God (19-20)
One-fifth of the Sermon on the Mount deals directly with money. This week’s lesson begins, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth” (v. 19). In the Greek, “do not treasure for yourselves treasure on earth.” Rather, “treasure for yourselves treasure in heaven.”
Here’s the conflict: treasure on earth vs. treasure in heaven. As you decide which side to choose, consider two facts. First: you will keep only what you give to God.
Jesus deals directly with the three great sources of wealth in his world: garment, grain, and gold.
Clothing styles didn’t change in the ancient world, so people kept their garments as an investment. But moths do what styles did not. You find your treasure in your garments, but they’re soon gone. And they still are today. How many clothes do you still wear from five years ago?
The ancients built giant granaries and thought they were wealthy when they were full. But “rust” destroys—the Greek word means “that which eats,” referring to mice, worms, and rats. You find your treasure in your grain, but it’s soon gone. It’s still true today: it takes a year to build a house, and a week to destroy it; a car is demolished in a moment. Possessions are soon gone.
And the world has always valued its gold. Most didn’t have banks, so they buried their gold in the ground near the wall of their house. But their walls were thin, made of mud bricks and adobe. Thieves could easily “break in and steal.” And no insurance companies existed to help. You find your treasure in your gold, but it’s soon gone. Stock market investors know it’s still true.
Only in heaven are our possessions safe: “store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal” (v. 20). Our treasure is safe only with its Creator.
If money on earth could last, the Egyptian pyramids would have kept it. But within a generation, thieves broke into the most elaborate safes ever constructed.
Jacob Hammer was wealthy from birth because of a large inheritance. His investors stored his money in salt domes along the Caspian Sea. But a freak typhoon swept it all away, and Jacob went from tycoon to pauper in one afternoon.
The Titanic carried John Jacob Astor, George B. Widener, John B. Thayer, and Benjamin Guggenheim to their deaths. Their wealth could not buy another moment of life.
Alexander the Great left instructions that he was to be buried with his hands outside his casket, to show the world that its conqueror’s hands were empty. The Spanish have a proverb: a burial shroud has no pockets. A mortician puts nothing into the pockets of those he buries. There are never U-Hauls attached to hearses.
A man gave several thousand dollars to help build a church. Then came the 1929 Great Depression, and he lost everything. A friend said to him, “If you had the money you gave to start that church, you would have had enough to set yourself up in business again.” He replied, “I would have lost that money in the crash as well. As it is, it is the only money I saved. It is now in the bank of heaven yielding interest which will accumulate until eternity. Hundreds have come to Christ through the church it helped build.”
Why give God your tithe, offering, and benevolence? Because he can do more with it than we can. We will lose all we own. He will keep all we give. That’s a fact.
We cannot serve both God and money (21-24)
Here’s the other fact: you and I cannot serve both God and money. We must choose which will be our master, for one always is. And that one will shape our life purpose and mold our soul.
How we use our money reveals our true values: “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (v. 21). But money also creates our values. How we spend our money shows and shapes who we are.
We will live either for the Creator or his creation. We will define success either by pleasing him or pleasing the world; accumulating reward in heaven or possessions on earth; acclaim in eternity or popularity today. We cannot have both.
But some try, as Jesus makes clear. He calls the eye the “lamp of the body.” He says it must be “good,” translating the word for “single.” If your eye gives your body a single image, you are “full of light”—you can see where you’re going.