Saturday, January 19, 2013
Waiting around for the Kingdom to Come
Luke 19:11 ¶ As they were listening to this, he went on to tell a parable, because he was near Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately.
Luke 19:12 So he said, “A nobleman went to a distant country to get royal power for himself and then return.
Luke 19:13 He summoned ten of his slaves, and gave them ten pounds, and said to them, ‘Do business with these until I come back.’
Luke 19:14 But the citizens of his country hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to rule over us.’
Luke 19:15 When he returned, having received royal power, he ordered these slaves, to whom he had given the money, to be summoned so that he might find out what they had gained by trading.
Luke 19:16 The first came forward and said, ‘Lord, your pound has made ten more pounds.’
Luke 19:17 He said to him, ‘Well done, good slave! Because you have been trustworthy in a very small thing, take charge of ten cities.’
Luke 19:18 Then the second came, saying, ‘Lord, your pound has made five pounds.’
Luke 19:19 He said to him, ‘And you, rule over five cities.’
Luke 19:20 Then the other came, saying, ‘Lord, here is your pound. I wrapped it up in a piece of cloth,
Luke 19:21 for I was afraid of you, because you are a harsh man; you take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’
Luke 19:22 He said to him, ‘I will judge you by your own words, you wicked slave! You knew, did you, that I was a harsh man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow?
Luke 19:23 Why then did you not put my money into the bank? Then when I returned, I could have collected it with interest.’
Luke 19:24 He said to the bystanders, ‘Take the pound from him and give it to the one who has ten pounds.’
Luke 19:25 (And they said to him, ‘Lord, he has ten pounds!’)
Luke 19:26 ‘I tell you, to all those who have, more will be given; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.
Luke 19:27 But as for these enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and slaughter them in my presence.’”
Luke 19:28 ¶ After he had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.
In my mind I often think of the story of the ten talents, but not often do I think of the story of the ten pounds, or minas. This story takes on a little different character because Jesus lays out an understanding about the kingdom right in the first verse. The people listening to him that day were supposing that he was going to march into Jerusalem and take over the city. They were ready for the kingdom of God to be a political power, overthrowing the current authorities and taking control. The parable was spoken for the listeners that day, and for us as well for the kingdom of God was different from anything that anyone had ever considered. The kingdom of God would transcend earthly powers and authorities and Jesus would begin the rule and power of the kingdom with his death and resurrection. However, the kingdom would not come to completion until his return. In the meantime the servants working within the kingdom were to care for and work to expand the kingdom. The Master would know whom he could trust with his resources. To some would be given much, and to others very little. Those with much would take the resources and work hard and expand the kingdom and become responsible for more and more within the kingdom. But there would also be those servants who would hear the good news, receive their pounds and then do nothing. They would literally take God's resources and wrap them up and hide them away somewhere so they could not be "damaged." The Master did not want his resources to simply be protected -- he wanted them used, and this one lost all that he had.
Last evening I was wandering through Barnes & Noble Bookstore perusing the shelves with the almost endless supply of books. In the Christianity section a huge variety of materials are available. One subject which is obviously quite popular with readers is "end-time" prophesy. (On a side-note, the literature often found in the religion section of Barnes & Noble reveals what popular Christian culture 'likes' but does not necessarily reflect the really good stuff that is available to help us in our Christian walk. So, just because it's on the shelves at Barnes & Noble, let's not think that is an endorsement that it's the best resources available! Barnes & Noble is a business out to sell books.) My struggle with the sheer volume of end-time prophesy is that it would seem to instill an attitude much like the third individual in the story. The focus becomes on protection and survival. Isn't that what the third person did with their money? Didn't they wrap it in a piece of cloth -- protect it -- and refuse to share it with anyone else? When we are consumed with concern over the second coming of Jesus Christ we do not focus on the expansion of the kingdom. Instead, we become concerned with encroachment of the world into the kingdom and so we pull back, we protect, and we hope and pray that Jesus will soon return!
This is not the way that Jesus wanted his followers to be living in the kingdom. Instead, he was looking for good and faithful stewards who could be entrusted with the Father's resources. There is great encouragement in this word from the Lord. The days in which he lived were extremely difficult for God's followers, and yet, he was suggesting that not only could they live out a life of faith in the kingdom, but that if they harnessed the resources given to them by God, they could work to expand the kingdom. When we join him in praying "Thy Kingdom Come" -- we are not praying for a someday thing, we are praying that today -- may his kingdom come! May his kingdom expand today as I actively take part in expanding his work in the world.
God's followers are not supposed to sit back and be protective of what we have, but we are to be active "doers" within his kingdom work. This is God's plan. Therefore we may need to step back and reevaluate the resources that we have been given and examine how they may be used to expand the kingdom. There is a hurting and needy world out there today that needs to experience Jesus and the touch of the kingdom of God in their lives. Will we be Jesus to them? Will we use God's resources to touch them? Or are we waiting around in "safe-mode" awaiting the return of Jesus Christ, clutching onto what we have been given with all our might, not willing to let anyone see what it is that we have.
"Your kingdom come, your will be done."
Lord, please help me to be a faithful servant within your kingdom today. Amen.