I’m getting bored with the stock market these days.
I don’t read the business pages anymore, I stopped caring what they say on CNBC, and I even let my subscriptions to Fortune and Forbes run out.
Why? Well, frankly, losing money on the stock market is boring; and feeling stupid and average is no thrill.
I mean, hey, I had a blast in 2000 – even thought I was a financial genius. I could do no wrong. When the big stock market ceasars were getting stabbed in the back in the Ides of March 2000, I was walking relatively tall.
My timing was great. My stock picking was brilliant. I had a good mixture of this’s and that’s. I felt like the man.
And let me tell you, it was fascinating. Just like supermodels must love to look at themselves in the mirror – I loved how the stock market told me I was smart.
But then everything went wrong. Nothing I bought went up, and nothing I sold went down.
All of a sudden, I went from being a raging bull to a dying cow.
And it got boring. The mirror is not so fascinating to the homely, and nobody likes to feel like a fool every morning over coffee and the paper.
I still read some business news though. And I’m fascinated by all the commentary and analysis going around these days in the wake of last year’s stock-market bubble.
My favorite idea is the so-called “Greater Fool Theory.”
The Greater Fool Theory is quite simple. It says: in the market place, there arise periods of irrationally exuberant behavior, in which speculators will pay a higher price for something than they think it is intrinsically worth, because they are betting that a Greater Fool will come along and buy it from them for more.
According to this theory, the guy who bought Inktomi stock at $200 a share last year is the greater fool than the guy who sold it. Especially now that it goes for five bucks a share.
The Greater Fool Theory is not a nice theory. It doesn’t assume the best of people, and certainly, investing is not necessarily the same as speculating or gambling.
But I’m not talking about that today.
I’m talking about the shadow side of human nature. I see it in myself. And I doubt I’m alone.
I’m talking about the greed which makes me desire things I do not need because I think they will make me feel better, smarter, cooler, happier, more secure.
I’m talking about the narcissistic fascination I have with succeeding in the world of money and material things.
I’m talking about how good it feels to hit the jackpot, and the wish that I did it more often.
And I’m talking about this today, because I think it’s pretty clear that God is talking about it too. God’s in our face this morning, talking about the side of the human soul which doesn’t invest its talents for the sake of others, but for personal gain. God’s talking about the invisible hand which can drive you to succeed on earth – but not necessarily in the Kingdom of God.
It’s one of the slipperiest slopes of human nature that we confuse desires with needs. We exchange our Goodness and Service for “goods and services.” We come to believe that we will only truly be safe when we have made a big pile of gold, class, awards, fans, weapons, clothing, food, or whathaveyou.
I know it’s hard to hear, but we human beings really can be fools. We can remember so many things which seem so important each day, but yet we forget the simplest things of God time and again.
Like, “Seek and ye shall find.”
Or, “Come unto me all ye that travail and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you.”
We forget that God will give us all that we need. And all he asks is that we help him pass it around.
Now, not every one of us is greedily storing away vast wealth here on earth; or arguing with our brother and sister over the inheritance we think we deserve; or losing sleep because we know that one day we must relinquish control over whatever we currently master.
But I do sometimes.
And I’m willing to bet that in some way, you and I are still looking to our own devices, to fulfill our own desires, because we do not fully trust that God will give us whatever we need to become whole. We worry that we must toil and strive to close the circle, or find the missing piece, and we forget that only God knows where that missing piece is – because that missing piece is the Peace Which Passes All Understanding.
I’m willing to bet that in some way, everyone of us here is not quite satisfied with drinking from the cup that God has put before us.
I’m willing to bet that everyone of us here feels a little bit indicted when we hear Jesus tell a story about a fool who thinks more about his stuff, then he does about the God of Love.
And that’s o.k. Because, well … we’re fools.
We’re fools who sometimes take advantage of the foolishness of others in order to get a little more for ourselves.
Thank God the Kingdom of God is not a stock market bubble.
And when we squabble over our shares, God doesn’t send a judge or a divider to decide between us. He sends his Son to come and say, “You’re lost because you’re looking for God in a pile of sand.”
He awakens the dead from their slumber and tells us, “Do not seek the living among the dead, but come to me … I Am The Way.”
So, don’t be offended, but please take it personally. Jesus is calling us by name.
He says, “Put away your vanity and your striving under the sun, and come and sit with me for a little while, so you might enrich yourself toward heaven.” Amen.