One of the craziest, and probably most misunderstood parables in all the Bible is in Luke 16:1-9. This guy is a terrible financial manger who was wasting his masters money. When his master finds out and gives him the pink slip, he decides to make friends with his masters debtors so he will have a place to stay tomorrow. He devises a plan to cut their debts to his master, get on their good side, and then they would welcome him into their homes. When the master finds out he ........has him executed?.....No...."the master commended the unjust steward because he had dealt shrewdly"(Luke 16:8). Jesus goes on to say in verse 9 "And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when it fails, they may receive you into an everlasting home."
Now, Jesus is not condoning the managers sin, but he is telling His disciples that we need to have the same forethought and quick-thinking when it comes to using what God has given us, to reach the lost. The "unrighteous mammon" Jesus speaks of is the things of this world. Jesus called it "unrighteous", not sinful. He is talking about our money, time, talents, hobbies, personalities, etc. These things, in and of themselves, have no reedeming value, they are inademit objects and/or things that are neither good nor evil. These are the things God has given us to be used for the glory of God and to reach the lost. We are always to be thinking ahead and quick on our feet to use them to reach people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ....as we go, as we live our lives (missional). Jesus tells us to use them, so that "when it fails" (at the end of time when money, time, etc. are of no more use), the people we reached with these things, will be there, welcoming us into Heaven. So many times we think we can only use righteous things (hymns, Christian music, church services, tithes, etc.) to do righteous things.
Here is probably the best, real life example, I have seen of this parable being lived out. Last week (1/3/2010) there was a volunteer mission group going to India to do a musical mission trip. These folks are not going to hold concerts in auditoriums, but going to the slums in Mumbai to use their talents (mammon) to reach the lost. Well, there was a huge setback in Newark airport. As you may recall, some knucklehead bypassed security, threw everything into a panic and they shutdown the terminal looking for the guy. Half of the mission team was already in the air and on their way, while 11 members of the team were stuck in the shutdown terminal. People are ticked off, missing flights, loosing luggage and are crammed together without being able to leave. The mission team in the terminal have their guitars (unrighteous mammon) with them, and so one of them decides to entertain the people. Think quick....act shrewdly...what should he play? Amazing Grace? Jesus Loves Me? Something by Chris Tomlin or Casting Crowns? Watch the clip and hear for yourself.
Most of the time we hear the story of how the guy sang a Christian hymn about Jesus, people booed, and the guy went on the rest of his trip bragging about being "persecuted for his faith" in the airport. The dude in this video acted shrewdly, using a song (unrighteous mammon) that most everybody knows (at least the chorus anyway) and was able to not only lighten the mood, but later give his testimony to people who wanted to know more about him. He was an instant novelty to those stuck in the terminal. "Who are you, where are you going, why are your going to India........". The group was able to share their faith with individuals by acting quickly and using what God had given them (guitars, time stuck in a terminal, talent, and yes, even the Beatles) to have an opportunity to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with people who were now willing and wanting to know more about them.
"And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when it fails, they may recieve you into an everlasting home." Luke 16:9