The passage we read at girly bible study on Monday was not by any means the nice, simple, comforting passage many of us had been hoping for. Instead it was a challenging reminder of the imminency of Christ’s return and the importance of serving him faithfully at all times.
It was particularly pertinent for me. The frustration I’ve felt in these past few months at my lack of sense of purpose has, as usual, transferred to something of a falling out with God – on my part, you understand. It hasn’t been purposeful – why would I ever want such a thing – but, with one thing and another, I’ve not read my bible, prayed, served properly for a good month at least. This takes it’s toll on the heart.
I alluded to it a little while ago. Other than this everything has been great and I’ve never been happier, so in a lot of ways it’s been easy to ignore. But, when your at the top of the mountain, it’s easy to think you got there, and are staying there, by your own strength. When you’re not falling you don’t need anything to hold on to and you forget that all things come from God.
Beneath it all though there’s been a weight, a burden, I haven’t been able to shift. Primarily it’s a burden of guilt. As the world sees it I’ve committed no heinous crime but as God sees it I’ve done perhaps the worst that I could: I’ve shoved him to the side again and taken responsibilty of, and credit for, that which I have no right to. There’s the feeling that I ought to have done something I haven’t. A feeling that I’ve gotten something very wrong somewhere.
This passage was a bit of a wake up call for me. A call for perseverance. A call for repentance. A call for obedience.
In the very first lines Jesus calls his followers to be “like men who are waiting for their master to come home”. Is Jesus really my master? How much do I long for him to come home?
The master – the glorious master of the heavens and earth – is the same one who will “dress himself for service and have them recline at the table, and he will come and serve them” (v37). That, in all honesty, blows my mind. The humility. The love. And all I can think in response is “No. I am not worthy. Please don’t”. I rejoice at God’s desire to do so but I cannot allow him to. I am not worthy to stand in his presence. Not today.
The second half of the passage is a little different. It speaks more of the responsibility given to the servant in the master’s absence. That’s us, as we await Christ’s return. It’s a responsibility of care, not to be abused or taken advantage of. The ESV describes the servant as the “manager” who is “to give them their portion of food at the proper time” (v.42). We are given resources and the means to distribute them. We are also given the wisdom and sense of justice required to do so appropriately and fairly. We are not to hoard or be selfish but manage and care.
My ethics lecturer likes to talk a lot about redistribution of land and wealth. Many think this is an unachievable (usually communist) Utopia. I think it’s a God-given vision, plan, reality. By His grace, within His Body, I genuinely believe it’s achievable. But that’s a rant for another day.
Those who are caught abusing the power they have, who “begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and get drunk”, will be “cut in pieces” and “put with the unfaithful”: treated as though an unbeliever. It seems harsh when we know that God promises grace and forgiveness. But the focus of this passage, as Stef pointed out to us on Monday, is timing, not punishment and salvation. We must look at these few confusing verses (v.45-47) in the context of the whole of Scripture. It’s not possible to explain the whole of the Gospel in each and every verse, it’s why God has given us an entire book, but we can see here the seriousness of continual faithfulness to God; of acting upon that which we know to be true; of always being ready for Jesus’ return.
Jesus finishes by saying this (v.48):
Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.
I think that has a different meaning for each of us. What have you been given? What is expected of you?
I know that I am guilty, almost always, of a lack of urgency. The thought of Jesus returning in the past few weeks and finding my heart in the state that it was is horrible, shameful even. I know people who think this type of obedience is a result of fear-mongering on God’s part and not the correct foundation for a moral system. Trust me it’s not fear, it’s love. I don’t want to disappoint God because I love him.
I’ve really missed Girly Bible Study by the way – love them all muchly and am already looking forward to being back for more at easter!