1 John 5:9–13 (NRSV)
9 If we receive human testimony, the testimony of God is greater; for this is the testimony of God that he has testified to his Son. 10 Those who believe in the Son of God have the testimony in their hearts. Those who do not believe in God have made him a liar by not believing in the testimony that God has given concerning his Son. 11 And this is the testimony: God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.
What is salvation for? This question is the very question that we consider every Wednesday evening. I may sound like a pretty silly question but just consider it for a moment…What is our salvation for? Many answers may come to mind, but as those answers enter your mind again ask the question what is salvation for?
I ask this question because it is one that has been ricocheting around in my mind for several years in one form or another. The immediate response that comes to mind is, “so I can go to Heaven…” well actually that is probably a bit of a cleaned up super-spiritual answer because actually that answer really is, “so I don’t go to hell.” If we are honest with ourselves, this is the first answer that came to our minds. For many of us that very answer is the beginning point of our spiritual journey. But if that is all that salvation is for why exactly are we here?
If all salvation is for is to get us to heaven there were be very little reason for us to come every, or nearly every Sunday to worship. Yet here we are on yet another Sunday singing praises, reading scriptures, and centering down to listen to the spirit of God. Yet so often that is the message that the church pushes out to the world, have faith in God and avoid hell. Because of this over and over again we hear calls for people to come down to the altar to pray to receive Jesus as their savior. What then? We are saved but what good is it, is it just a life insurance policy that we purchase and wait for it to mature so we can collect the benefits later on?
No that is not salvation. That is sales and marketing. That is packaging up the gospel to make the consumer feel like they got a great deal for minimal cost. It is simple, concise, and a bargain. Yet often that is how we try to present the good news to the people of the world. The reality is that answer is not fully wrong, but it is not full either. It is a shell of the gospel, hollow and shallow.
What is salvation for, what is the Gospel for, for that matter what is the Gospel? Questions like this run through everyone’s minds at one point or another throughout their spiritual journeys, because questions like this arise out of a life lived. Every moment we live events occur that cause reactions, at times the reactions that we experience are very pleasant while at other moments these events break us down at the knees causing us to reconsider whatever we once thought we believed. What is salvation for?
Throughout John’s epistle he has had to deal with these sorts of questions. He is writing a letter to people that had a belief that God was going to establish a kingdom among them within their lifetime. That Jesus was ascended to heaven to prepare not just a place for them, but that he was going to prepare the armies of God to overthrow the powers of the world immediately and establish a new order and kingdom that would have no end. The problem was that the first disciples, the ones that witnessed Jesus and walked with him as he performed many amazing feats, were all slowly falling to various forms of persecution. So faith was being questioned, what is this thing we call faith for, if it was not what they first expected?
John tells us listen to the testimonies. Listen to the stories, the accounts of those around us. Listen and observe because in those words we will begin to see a glimpse of what God is doing and the beginning of the answers. The story of our lives are powerful because our story is one that no one can really question, it is simply what we experience and observed around us. We may not interpret the events the same way as the one speaking to us, but we cannot say that it is legend or tall tale because it is personal, and we were not there. But words of women and men can only go so far. Testimony is a court term, it brings to mind images of a court room where lawyers are coming forward asking questions and an individual is recounting observations as they remember them. Our story is powerful because it is what was seen, it can be used by other to assist them in making judgments, but testimonies can only go so far, because it is simply one piece of evidence. One piece of evidence does not make the case because the evidence only points to the truth. The truth lies deeper within.
John then says that God also give a testimony, and that testimony is even greater than all the testimonies of mankind. The testimony of God has been collected throughout the ages and continues to be presented for the ages to come. It is the testimony that dwell in the pages of scripture and in the hearts of humanity. Which leads us to something else. The heart. When the ancients spoke of the heart they did not have the same knowledge as we do today, to them the heart was an abstract concept they knew it was deep within, and that life was connected to it but they did not know that it was an organ made of muscle tissues that was used to circulate blood throughout the body to provide the various systems the nutrients and elements to live. To the ancients the heart was simply the essence of life. That part deep within that gave purpose and meaning, it was your truest self.
The testimony of God dwells in the truest self of humanity, the image of God. John says that if we do not believe we are calling God a liar, because we are rejecting that testimony. Which bring many more questions up, but continues to revolve around a central theme. What is salvation for and along with it what is life for.
Throughout the New Testament we hear eternal, everlasting, and abundant life spoken about. It is easy for us to get hung up on one particular meaning of those words. I would like us to consider a different meaning today vitality, or essence. “God gave us vitality, meaningful, essences of life, through his son.” He gives us true foundational, meaningful, actual life, life that endures through the trials, continues through every trial that can be thrown at us. Something that through the darkest or brightest situations life that can be filled with joy. This is a very different type of life than that life that the world has to offer. It is a life that goes beyond just what we experience today or even our life time but endures though ages and ages. It is humanity. It is creation singing the praises of its creator dancing with God through the symphony of life.
You see often we do not see the larger picture, we only see what is right us. That is how the world views life, just what is before us. This narrowed view of life damns so many things. When we fail to embrace the fullness of life with Christ we limit what God can do through us. We have limited resources, limited time, limited energy, limited everything we can only operate in a very small area because that is life according to the world. How can we minister within our limits? We cannot. We cannot bring a testimony of peace and nonviolence to the cities of America because the job is too large and we are too small. We cannot end the hideousness of human trafficking because we are just a small group and there are millions of people that are already in bondage. We cannot stop wars because we do not have enough time to negotiate peace. We cannot….
The limits we have are vast. We cannot do anything because we are trapped within a worldly view of life. Life that is only here now, life that is not enduring, that does not continue, that will end when we end. But John and the apostles were bearing witness and testifying to a life that was much different. Jesus came announcing that the kingdom of God was at hand. Immediately people began attach that statement to their worldly understanding of kingdoms and life. He said that within that generation he would usher in that kingdom riding upon the clouds, which brings many more ideas and understandings. John then writes his letter at the closing of that generation say it is true, the kingdom is here the only reason we do not see it is our eyes are not focused in the right places. We cannot see the vastness of the enduring and everlasting life because we are looking though eyes that are trapped in the bondages of the temporal world. But the kingdom is here, it is all around us.
That kingdom is right in front of us. God is calling us, writing his commands and desires on our hearts urging us to embrace the enduring life right here and right now. He is calling us to salvation through him so that we can bring that enduring life to the world that is stuck in its own limitations. What would happen if we did not live constrained by the limits of the world? What if we did not believe that time was a limiting factor? Would we pursue the things that God has written deep down in the core of our being? What if we believed that the resurrected Christ could build his kingdom where we are now and allow that work to endure throughout the ages? Would we allow the limits of this world to hinder us from living the enduring life that is found in Christ?
The reality is that life endures with or without us. It has endured for thousands if not millions of years. And it will continue well beyond what we perceive to be our life time. So why then are we focusing on the short term things instead of the things that endure? Jesus showed us how to focus on the enduring things. The things that matter are found in Prayer, worship and service to others. That rhythm of life, the lifestyle that Jesus lived while he walked the earth and called twelve men to participate in. Jesus did not see the limitation of these twelve men but he saw the eternal, enduring, abundant life that was living at the core. He showed them how to nourish that life, how to steadily pursue the goal and the task set before them, joyfully enduring whatever the world threw at them. And the kingdom has come. It begins when we enter into that lifestyle and start living with Christ and then sharing our lives with those around us. Letting the evidence of God’s testimony be expressed through our actions and words.
John then writes, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.” Everything we do endures, just as our spirit endures with Christ. The question remains what is our salvation for? It is for us to propel the kingdom of God into the ages that come after us. It is for us to live in lives with the endurance of Christ at the center of what we do. It is for us to boldly take on the various lifestyles of the world that are limiting humanity from experiencing the life that God has testified lives within the deepest recesses of our hearts. He wants us to live our lives totally for him. Taking for ourselves the lifestyle He showed us so that through us and the enduring lives that began centuries ago that continues through us we will see his kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. Our salvation is not for us, but it is for Him and for the world he created.
Mark 1:4–11 (NRSV)
4 John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 6 Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7 He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. 8 I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
The Baptism of Jesus
(Mt 3:13–17; Lk 3:21–22; Jn 1:29–34)
9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. 11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”
Of all the differences between all of the denominations found in the various Christian traditions the most divisive is that of baptism. When there is one church one God and one baptism why exactly is there so much disunity among believers over this one activity? There is much fuss over this activity because in most faith traditions baptism is the first rite, the first ordinance or means of grace. Which is why we read about it today during the first Sunday of Epiphany. The season of Epiphany is the celebrations of the great revelation of God, the revealing of Jesus as the Messiah, Lord, and king. Baptism and the baptism of Jesus is the beginning of God’s greatest revelation to mankind, the revelation of the very word of God, Jesus.
Every Christian denomination has some understanding of what baptism is and how it should be performed, and each of these various denominations have a disagreement in some form with each other. Of course there is the common argument infant baptism versus believer’s baptism, then there are submersion versus pouring, there are arguments and against the number of times one must be submerged or sprinkled, or what words one must say for the baptism to be acceptable, and even who is authorized to do the baptizing. There are arguments even over what type of water can be used when administering a baptism. Some traditions have an age limit, some have degrees of which your baptism can count. There are even some faith traditions that require frequent baptisms for repentance of sins. I have confused myself already, but with all of these various understandings of baptism how can we be sure we are right? And to top it off how can be sure of anything when we are in a Friends Church where most would say we do not believe in baptism.
Let us start over. John was baptizing in the Jordon, dressed in crazy attire and eating things that do not sound too appetizing. Why and what was John doing? For most people we believe that baptism is a Christian thing, but we would actually be wrong. Baptism has a long history one that stretches back to the very beginning of humanity. Baptism in some form has been part of religion for as long as religions have been acted out. But according to some Jewish traditions the first mention of an activity similar to baptism comes directly Adam and Eve sinned and were banished from the Garden of Eden. It is said that Adam fasted and stood in the Jordan River (or the River Gihon) up to his neck for forty (or forty-nine) days and Eve likewise stood in Tigris for thirty-seven days. Each stood there as for penance for their sin, hoping to gain atonement. Now that story is one of tradition and not of historical fact, and is not mentioned in scripture anywhere and is not even believed across all forms of Jewish tradition but there is a history that connects ritualistic washing to the cleansing of sin. This is seen even more directly during the time the Jewish people were exiled to Babylon.
During the exile the rabbinical forms of the Jewish faith began to emerge. This is important because this is the beginnings of both the contemporary Christian and Jewish traditions. The rabbinical systems had to find a way to express orthodox faith without an actual temple to perform sacrifices in. It was during the exile that Daniel and his friends were in the courts of and became advisors to the king. Because there were people of Hebrew heritage in such prominent rolls people became curious about their faith. These people were taught and in some cases had a strong desire to join into the community of the faithful. To accommodate these God fearers the Rabbis devised methods and practices for conversion. These included a period of rejection, ceremonial washing, and circumcision or the release of blood. Many of the methods and practices that started during this timeframe are still being used in some traditions today.
The use of water in the acceptance into the Jewish community is symbolic for many points in history. It can represent the repentant activities of Adam and Eve, it can represent the joining of the community by passing through the water that the children of Israel passed through during the exodus or before entering the Promised Land. But in all cases it represented the crossing from one life to another. A new beginning, letting the old life be washed away and a new life to emerge unblemished and clean.
John was out there baptizing in the Jordan. The location of John’s ministry is very important as well. It is widely accepted today that John was most likely a member of the Jewish sect known as the Essenes, which is the sect that preserved the documents we call the Dead Sea scrolls. The odd thing about this group of people is that they made their residence outside of the land of Israel. The lived on the opposite side of the Jordan because they taught a very strict form of faith that one could not enter the Promised Land unless you were properly cleansed from all sin. John stood on the banks of the Jordan crying out to the people of Israel to repent and be baptized because they were not prepared to be in the land promised to their fore fathers, they were corrupt and unclean in some way and needed to be rejoined into the community just as any other person foreign to the community of the faithful. They needed to have a new beginning.
John baptized in the Jordan and he proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” Consider this statement for a moment while we contemplate the meaning and purpose of baptism. When the early Friends spoke out against the performance of water baptism they almost exclusively used this very statement for their discussion. Robert Barclay, considered the first Quaker theologian and author of An Apology for the True Christian Divinity (now commonly refered to as, “Barclay’s Apology”) says, “If those that were baptized with the baptism of water were not therefore baptized with the baptism of Christ; then the baptism of water is not the baptism of Christ…Why should he have said, that those whom he had already baptized, should yet be baptized with another baptism?”
Why exactly do we as followers of Jesus continue to argue over this one activity of baptism? Mainly because it marks the beginning of a new life. When a husband brings their new wife home for the first time there is a tradition of carrying her over the threshold. This tradition symbolically represents a profound change in their relationship and their existence from that moment on. He is placing her into his house, she has crossed over no longer a guest but part of the household, placed in not to be removed. You can add or subtract whatever you want to that tradition, I did not carry Kristy over the threshold because she feared for her life that I would drop her or cause a serious head injury as I rammed her head into the door frame. And she was probably right. The religious rite of Baptism is just like that it is a symbolic representation of crossing over from death to life, from a foreigner a to member of a community, from one rejected to one accepted. This happens in various forms, at various ages, and by various methods. Infants, children, adolescents, and adults are all accepted as they are and are encouraged from that moment on to walk with Christ. We continue to argue the point across the various traditions because we have different understandings of when that life of discipleship begins.
The most important thing is that it does begin. The most important thing is the encouragement of every individual that is in or has contact with our community to walk with Christ. To immerse them in the teachings and lifestyle that Christ has shown us. To turn every aspect of their being away from the ways of a sinful world and refocus them to promote the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven.
Pure faith, distilled faith, faith taken down to the purest most elemental form is what the early Friends wanted to promote. A faith that was not filled with ritual or weighted down with dogma. I have often been asked how can I be a Christian if I have not been baptized, how can Friends be Christian if they do not perform baptisms? I ask what baptism is. For a Baptist it is one thing, to a Lutheran something else, for a Catholic it is performed one way for an Orthodox another. In every case the pure elemental form of the rite is the same there is an acceptance of an individual and a commitment of a community to encourage and teach them to follow Christ. Baptism is just one of those rites used to encourage and provide means of grace available to each of us through Jesus. The Eucharist or communion is another, marriage another, repentance and confirmation, the anointing of the sick, and the participation in a life of devotion are others. Protestants see only two sacraments, Catholics see seven, Orthodox see an infinite number of mysteries that can draw us into to the grace of God, and as Friends we see every aspect of our lives as being holy and sacred to God, to be used to encourage everyone we meet to turn to God.
In the gospel of Matthew John refuses to baptize Jesus saying that it is John not Jesus that needs to be baptized, but Jesus responds by saying, “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.” It is proper for what, Jesus was sinless, he was the fulfillment and the hope of the ages, what and why was it proper for him to be baptized by John? It was the beginning. He was taking all people Jew and Greek, male and female, slave or free into the land of promise. He was opening the doors of the kingdom and providing the very means of that entrance through himself. John stood as the guardian of the old covenant and Jesus as the gate to the new and as he emerged from the waters the heavens opened and the spirit descended on him like a dove, and a voice from heaven spoke, “This is my son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”
God made the greatest revelation that day, and he began a new work. He revealed to us through that act that in Jesus, God is pleased. That in Jesus, all things are made new. It is in Jesus we can cross from death into life and have hope through the hopelessness we see all around us. The power of that life is not in the water, but it is in Jesus. It is Jesus who left his throne in Heaven to dwell among mankind. It is Jesus who took on our humanity, our sin and our shame and hung it on the cross and covered it with his blood. It is Jesus who over powered the grip of death and rose to life. It is Jesus who went before us to prepare our place in heaven. It is Jesus who sends the very spirit of God to dwell inside our hearts, to teach and guide us. And it is Jesus who is calling each of us to join him and cross over into the Promised Land, a land that is not devoted to the way of man but a land that is influenced and devoted to the ways of God. It is Jesus that is calling each of us to become a person who devotes every aspect of to be set apart and devoted for Him and his ministry in this world.
As we enter into this time of open worship and holy expectancy I encourage each of us to consider a few things. Consider what is more important to God, performing the right ritual or living a right life? Consider what is more important to mankind, arguing over methods or encouraging a better lifestyle? God told the prophets of old that it was mercy that he wanted from the people of Israel not sacrifice, it is a life lived loving God, Embracing the Holy Spirit and Living the Love of Christ with others that he wants. Will we be his people living that out in our community?
Matthew 25:14–30 (NRSV)
The Parable of the Talents
14 “For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; 15 to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. 17 In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. 18 But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19 After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. 20 Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. 29 For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. 30 As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
Sometimes the worst thing about the parables of Jesus is that there is just too much information packed into a seemingly short story. Like last week’s story about the ten virgins. Who would have thought that we as a group would be discussing it for a good thirty minutes after the service? But during that discussion something very interesting was brought up, the idea of why the five wise virgins did not share the oil that they had with the foolish ones. That very question leads up to the parable that Jesus spoke just after that story. I want us to consider the oil as Luther suggested, as faith, or in deeper terms the source of faith, which is the very Spirit of God. That Spirit of God that was breathed into mankind on the sixth day of creation that separated us from all other living creatures, setting us apart to be stewards of all creation. The oil that burns in a lamp is the source or the fuel that allows for the energy of God to enlighten us, to burn within us without destroying us. It is drawn through the wick and the light shines all around, the flame, the oil, and the wick all relate to the triune God working together within a vessel of clay. A simple story that we teach to the youngest of ears, yet so deep it can puzzle the greatest biblical scholars, if they are honest enough to admit it.
But even Jesus knew that the story of the virgins could be twisted in some degree to the point that the true message would not be heard. Those ten virgins in the story waited and fell asleep, throughout history many groups have looked at this story and have said as long as you have the oil everything is good. This has left the church peddling a cheap grace, and a distorted form of discipleship. This is the very type of grace we so often hear about in our contemporary culture. As long as you have said the right prayer or attend the right church you are ok. It does not matter if your actions are right, or even if you are awake, the virgins were asleep. Yet Jesus ended that parable and transitioned into his next with one very important statement, “Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”
Keep awake. A lamp is worthless unless it is actively burning, oil is just a potential fuel until the flame ignites it, and a wick is just twisted fiber quickly devoured unless it is saturated. Without the flame, oil, and wick a lamp in the first century is just a fancy piece of clay, no life and no purpose only to broken down returning to the dust from which it was created. If the lamp is worthless asleep what does that say about us?
This is where today’s passage picks up. “For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to their ability. Then he went away.” The first thing that is striking when we look at this passage in context with the parable just prior to it, is that this basically says we have a purpose for being here. We are here for a reason, to take care of the master’s property. This has been the role of humanity from the dawn of time, this is why we were created in the image of God and given the breath of life. We are the caretakers of His property. Each one of us has a role to play, it does not matter if you believe in God or not, that is our role and our purpose. Have we ever really thought about that? In our ever present quest to redeem the world for the cause of Christ have we actually boiled our purpose down to the very core of why we exist in the first place?
To each of the servants the master entrusts a portion of his property, entrusting them with only enough that he deems they are able to handle, but I want us to consider just how much he has entrusted each of these servants. A talent is a form of currency, its value is approximately six thousand denarii. The denarii in ancient times was a day’s wage, so one talent is almost worth 16 and a half years of labor. In classical Roman times, the age encompassing the time Jesus taught, the average life expectancy was thirty years. So a talent would basically represent the wages an average individual would expect to earn in their lifetime. Think about that for a moment. You thought that this parable was about money, really it is about life.
Jesus goes on to say that the one that received five talents, enough money for five families, quickly went out and used what he had in trade and made five more talents, as did the man with two talents. The man with one talent went off, dug a hole, and buried the talent he had received. At times it is difficult to think of this story beyond what we perceive as economics, but I would really like us to think outside the traditional box we put this story in and think about it as life. One servant was entrusted with the livelihood of five families, another with the livelihood of two families, and the third was given his livelihood. The master granted them with the portion of property that he thought they could handle, what Jesus is saying is that lives are in our hands.
This is what my theology teacher would refer to as God’s economy. An economic system that was not regulated in currency but in something totally different and much more valuable. Jesus did not come from heaven to be born of a virgin, to live among humanity so that we could have a financial return on our investments, but so that mankind could be redeemed from death to life. God dwelt among mankind to restore humanity. Humanity and life is the economy that God cares about. All of our perceived wealth and wealth creation is worthless in the eyes of God, if what we invest our lives in does not promote life.
The servant that was a steward over the livelihood of five families was able to invest the resources he was given to provide for an additional five, the one with two could provide for an additional two. Suddenly the community grew from eight to fifteen, consider that for a moment. We have each been entrusted with life, we each have at bear minimum one talent to invest into this world. We have our one life. The question is how are we going to use it?
How are we going to invest our lives? When we consider our individual lives thing begin to get more complex. How we invest our lives reflects what we hold as most important. Consider a conversation you may have had with someone you did not know before, what are the things you talked about? You probably exchanged names, more than likely right after names were exchanged the discussion moved toward our employment or what we retired from, and generally the conversation dwindles from there. Our identities all too often are attached to our careers, our identity and our social standing is derived from a twisted economy where value is measured by currency and the ability to amass more currency. That part of our lives are tools that we use in bringing about who we truly are. Currency is a tool, wealth is a tool. It is no different than any other tool when we look the bigger picture. The dollar is like a shovel, how many people have devoted their lives to the savings of shovels? But a shovel is an important tool a shovel when used properly can dig the foundation for a house for someone to live in, it can provide an opportunity to make clean water available to a remote village, and it can give someone a way to feed their family.
I bring this up because the resources, every resource we have available to us is important. They are important only because those resources can be invested into lives. And life is what God is interested in. Are we investing our talents into the lives of our community or are we burying our talents in a hole? Along with that question is another, are we actively participating in the investment or are we just speaking words?
This is not cheap grace or easy discipleship, but an actual cross to bear. So often our words are gilded with scripture but our actions speak something totally different. How often have we heard words spoken saying, “I’m Pro-life” yet have not opened our homes to house a child whose parents’ are unable to support them? How often do we hear that we should help the poor from people that would never open their doors or tables up to someone in need?
We are stewards of the master’s property only stewards. We have been blessed with talents to invest not in ourselves but into the lives of other. What will the master say when he returns? To the ones that expanded the influence of the master he said, “Enter into the joy of your master.” But to the ones that bury their resources and refuse to invest in life, those are wicked and lazy servant who will lose everything. What does it cost to be a disciple of Christ? What is the cost of being a friend of Jesus? It takes belief that the belief goes beyond knowledge and trust, the belief that we will entrust all we have and all we are into our master’s business. It takes us learning that business by participating in the very life that Jesus himself showed us. It takes us investing all that we have to bring light into the darkness, hope to the hopeless, and healing to the broken. To be a disciple of Christ our actions and our words reflect each other, our careers are tools that we use to minister, and our very lives are lived so that His will will be done on Earth as it is in heaven. And that starts with each of us individually turning to him, it continues by us corporately walking together and encouraging each other to walk that journey with Christ, and it returns when we share in the joy of service.
As we reflect on this story that Jesus told and examine our lives during this time of open worship. I ask again, how are we investing our lives?