Last night we talked a bit about this passage, and the insight felt like something very worth sharing. Many of us have heard this story before. It's an illustration of the Kingdom of God....a parable that points to what Jesus is bringing about.
There are two main messages we often hear, associated with this story. Both miss the point by quite a bit. Usually, when these verses are quoted or read, we hear one of two messages:
1. "Well done, good and faithful servant.." Usually it's only these words we hear. Often as the goal of their life...a romanticized notion of arriving at the pearly gates, and to have Jesus with a long flowing white robe (kinda like a Snuggy, actually), offering us our own Heavenly Snuggy, and ushering us into a giant cloud-themed living room saying "Well DONE, good and faithful servant." God finds that we've accomplished His "work" well in this lifetime, and we've proven ourselves faithful despite all of the temptation we had to work to avoid during our days on earth. Our emphasis is on being "done", and now being able to get on with what all Christians really want to do, which is to say lounging around drinking coffee and chai, and playing musical instruments from the 2nd Century....basking in the sunshine (which is actually the light radiating off of Jesus), and working on our son-tan. :)
2. "You have been faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things!" When we hear these words, many times today it's in relation to a "prosperity gospel" type message. That if we are faithful with the few bucks we make right now, by giving tithes/offerings sacrificially, donating to worthy causes, and managing our affairs with Jesus at the center....God will no doubt increase our wealth, our success, and our empire of sorts. This is very popular. We with little money would love to believe this, because it's an easy path to success and financial peace (right?). Those with lots of money love to believe it, because then it's easier to rest easy with lots of money, as it is God's reward for the sacrifices already made and done with. But the truth is, you could be incredibly faithful with the little bit of money you have right now....and a tornado could still hit your home, and insurance refuse to pay for much. But don't tell Joel Osteen. :)
The Truth is, the story remains a parable about the Kingdom of God. The words "Well done, good and faithful servant..." do come at THE END OF THIS LIFE, and are immediately followed by the next phrase "You have been faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things!"
We will be given tasks/work in the Kingdom of God, just as we have many tasks at hand right now. If we are found faithful with what we've been given in this life, God will respond to that in the coming Kingdom! Not by giving us a large crown or mansion, or a "time off" couch and Snuggy....but with more responsibilities!!! A word given negative connotation by an earthly existence that is often way too imbalanced....but how glorious will be our responsibilities when God has been revealed fully, and made all things New!!!! Our tasks as priests and rulers will continue, and take New forms in the ages to come....I look forward to it all....and pray that God finds I've been faithful with what I've been given here and now....
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