I want to share with you a dramatic little story from the gospel as recorded by Saint Luke. It is a story of a man who by all standards of measurement would be considered a highly successful man. And yet Jesus called him a fool.
If you will read that parable, you will discover that the central character in the drama is a certain rich man. This man was so rich that his farm yielded tremendous crops. In fact, the crops were so great that he didn’t know what to do. It occurred to him that he had only one alternative and that was to build some new and bigger barns so he could store all of his crops. And then as he thought about this, he said, "Then I’m going to do something after I build my new and bigger barn." He said, "I’m going to store my goods and my fruit there, and then I’m going to say to my soul, ‘Soul, thou hast much goods, laid up for many years. Take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.’" That brother thought that was the end of life. But the parable doesn’t end with that man making his statement. It ends by saying that God said to him, "Thou fool. Not next year, not next week, not tomorrow, but this night, thy soul is required of thee." And so it was at the height of his prosperity, he died.
Look at that parable. Think about it. Think of this man: If he lived in Chicago today, he would be considered "a big shot". And he would abound with all of the social prestige and all of the community influence that could be afforded. Most people would look up to him because he would have that something called money. And yet a Galilean peasant had the audacity to call that man a fool.
I’d like for you to look at this parable with me and try to decipher the real reason that Jesus called this man a fool. Number one, Jesus called this man a fool because he allowed the means by which he lived to outdistance the ends for which he lived. You see, each of us lives in two realms, the within and the without. Now the within of our lives is that realm of spiritual ends expressed in art, literature, religion, and morality. The without of our lives is that complex of devices, of mechanisms and instrumentalities by means of which we live. The house we live in — that’s a part of the means by which we live. The car we drive, the clothes we wear, the money that we are able to acc*mulate — in short, the physical stuff that’s necessary for us to exist.
Now the problem is that we must always keep a line of demarcation between the two. This man was a fool because he didn’t do that.