Every time I come to the parable of the dishonest manager, I’m baffled.
Superficially it just doesn’t add up. Does Jesus really commend as our
role model “a manager of unrighteousness”? So this narrative makes us
listen extra carefully and read extra slowly, as we figure out in what
way this parable depicts the kingdom of heaven.
One of the strengths of my Anabaptist tradition is that it takes the Bible and biblical authority seriously but also expects believers, particularly younger people, to argue and raise questions about the text. The parable of the shifty steward in Luke 16 was a delight to my friends and me in our coming-of-age years.
In these days of Enron, Martha Stewart and wars waged over phantom weapons, we know better than to defend dishonesty. Then why would Jesus offer a parable lauding it? Upon closer inspection, however, this parable is just one in a long line of stories that Jesus tells about how to handle wealth.
This preacher was grateful for the lectionary during September. I often argue with the choices of texts for particular Sundays. But when the events of September 11 replaced all other agendas, including my carefully planned preaching topics, I turned to the lectionary with gratitude.