(Matthew 24:45-51) “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
This is a parable we should live by. They all are of course but the ideas of God cannot be simply spoken and understood. They must be developed in a heart filled with the Holy Spirit to become fully alive and applicable. Any time Jesus provides us a parable it speaks to every aspect of our life. The beauty of that is how the Word is alive and evolves in meaning to guide us in all seasons of life.
This parable speaks to God’s children, those who have accepted Jesus and are seeking to develop their lives with the indwelling of the Spirit. God is our master as we delight in the service of His kingdom. The religious structure man has created, in an attempt to reach God, clouds the true desire of God. God wants our hearts, our faith, our obedience, and true relationship with Him. Following the rules of fallible men leads away from His calling to us. The rules instituted by man create exclusivity which does not exist in the eyes of God. The rules man creates drive brothers and sisters in Christ away from the steadfast forgiveness and acceptance in Jesus. Not being open to relationship with all believers and helping them to grow is the same as ‘beating our fellow servants.’ If we are not ‘feeding’ them and helping their walk, we are in fact ‘beating’ the love of God back as He reaches out to all of His children. Look at this parable as a call of God to treat everyone with the love God shows you in your fallen condition. Don’t follow the rules of man. They are fallible, like the man who devised them. It is a mistake to take and try to grow the perfect word of God. If God didn’t choose to put in in scripture, who are we to add to the perfect plan of our Master?
I see a division that develops between people who were ‘raised in the church’ and people who found their Savior through a life of sinfulness. I’ve seen both sides view the other with a little longing for the other’s kind of testimony. The converted wish they could have avoided the mistakes they made in the absence of God and the ‘Christian raised’ people wish they could find the passion for Jesus they see in the other group.
People who were raised in church know all about God. They were raised with stories of His abilities and what He is. They learned to identify with God the way their parents or church elders did. They see God as a set of stories and rules that should be followed because that’s what God said. They see God as a legalistic God with requirements for the proper Christian life. The problem surfaces where the child either follows all of the rules then grows up to become even more legalistic (un-relatable to the fallen) or fails in following all of the rules and has no idea how to walk in redemption (loved by God regardless). Neither is spiritually healthy. This lawful view of God pushes those who came to the Lord broken away from church communities.
The people who find their Savior in their depravity have to deal with an initial onslaught of shame. From that shame, and proper knowledge of who God is, they find relationship with The Father. They can identify with His love and how a broken rule only magnifies His grace. They wish there wasn’t a resume of sin in their past because they fail to see what God was doing in their life. He has made them relatable and accepting of the lost and broken. The passion found in true relationship scares those who live on bible stories and rule following.
We see this exact premise play out in the Bible as well. The Jews were called by God to live in the law as they awaited the Messiah to come and rule over the earth. They became too focused on the law and missed the relationship with God and the love that was continually poured out for them. When Jesus came to reconcile the people and was rejected by the ‘law focused Jews’, Jesus came to Saul (Paul) and sent him to preach the Gospel to the gentiles. The gentiles then found God in there depravity and saw their need for a Savior in Jesus. They became the church that focused on the need for Jesus and the love of God over laws.
Next time you pick up the word of God and see the disciples of Jesus trying to speak into the Jews and trying to explain what the plan of God looks like in Jesus, realize this divide still exists today in the church. Although it isn’t a battle, it does cause division. But it doesn’t have to! We should see this as the opportunity for the ‘church raised’ to accept all who come into the community of Jesus, and for the passion found in relationship to spur their growth based on their repeated stories. The people in relationship should have patience as habitual views of a ruler God are replaced with an awareness of His steadfast acceptance and love. It should also serve as a lesson to parents to teach their children to have a real relationship with their Heavenly Father and to be an example to them of what that kind of relationship looks like in the flesh. Our Heavenly Father did the same for us, God’s earthly example was Jesus Christ.
Being a follower of Christ requires sanctification and a shift toward the holiness of God. That holiness sets us apart from the fallen world and rules out the world’s acceptance. It is important that we not lose sight of God and His will for our lives. Our behavior should not conform us to the sinfulness of the world. That includes conforming in order to be accepted by those around you. This temptation to conform should be thwarted by living life in the light of God and His guidance. The faith that His guidance is for your good, and will provide the path for your life that will help us be content with His plan and the inevitable distance between us and the world. (Romans 8:28-29a) And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[i] have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son (John 15:20-21) Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me.
As a follower of Jesus there is a decision to be made. Do we seek earthly rewards and pleasure or the abundance that awaits in heaven? This question pertains to many things: 1) possessions, 2) status, 3) recognition, 4) affection, 5) acceptance, 6) control and 7) longevity. This list is limited but should suffice in awakening the senses to the other ways people seek this world over eternity in paradise.