What does a 1st Century carpenter living in Jerusalem and an 18th Century priest from England have in common? Well, they both loved God deeply and they both talked a LOT about money. I'm talking about Jesus and John Wesley. Jesus, you've probably heard of, but maybe not John Wesley. Wesley was a man who wanted to transform his church; he wanted to reach people outside of the walls of the church and give people practical heartfelt ways to follow Jesus. He wasn't very interested in propping up the institution, and because of that he annoyed a lot of his colleagues. But he also annoyed them because he dared to talk about money.
Jesus, of course, had quite a few things to say about money, including this story we read this morning. It is a strange parable in which manager cooks his books in order to gain favor of his customers so that when his boss throws him out of his job, his customers will help him out. And then the wealthy man commends the manager for his shrewdness. Now I will tell you that I’ve never met a pastor who liked this parable. It’s strange! We can get all muddled up in the dishonesty of the manager’s actions. But the main point, is what Jesus says next— that that we who are followers of Jesus need to be just as smart about how we use our resources as those who are not followers of Jesus.
John Wesley loved this parable. He preached on this specific story at least 27 times between 1741 and 1758. And why did he love it? Because Wesley understood that money is an important part of our lives and that God calls us to be street smart with what we do with all of our resources.