At church this morning Pastor Mark (also our small group leader) gave a message on Luke 19:11-27. It is a passage in scripture where Jesus tells a parable to his listeners about a ruler who is headed to Rome to be officially declared a King. Before the ruler leaves he chooses some people and gives them an amount of money that was worth about a month's wages. This money was from his treasury given to about 10 people to take care of until the ruler returned as King. Each of the 10 did something different with the money with which they were entrusted. The way that each of the 10 reacted to the responsibility given to them by the ruler is a mirror into the lives of many believers who are entrusted with gifts from God. Will they share what they have been given, or will they hoard it? Read Luke 19;11-27 and decide what you think the reactions of the characters in the parable say about them...and to you.
This parable has been written about in countless Bible commentaries, as well as taught and spoken to God's people for centuries. If you want to read what others have said about this parable and how they have interpreted it, find a commentary in your local or church library. I'm not going to interpret the parable here.
But, here is what I learned in Pastor Mark's sermon today. Pastor Mark reminded me that when Jesus spoke in parables it was to help his listeners learn something more about Himself. Pastor Mark said, "The character of the Kingdom must reflect the character of the King. Jesus' kingship is about servanthood and sacrifice." Interesting that it's not just about serving, nor is it just about sacrifice...it's about both together. That is the nature of Jesus Christ! Jesus came to earth, leaving the glory of Heaven behind, not only as a helpless baby, but as a man who loved his disciples so much that he washed their feet! He didn't just wash their feet, he told them to do the same to and for others. Serving and sacrificing. While we live here and now in between the time after Christ first appeared on earth and the second coming of Christ we are to be busy doing just that, serving and sacrificing.
So the guys from the parable who got the ruler's money to take care of...the ones who did something with the money besides wrap it up and hide it until the ruler's return...they knew the money was not theirs! Because they knew the money came from a man who had plenty of financial reserves, they were not afraid to invest, even spend, the money! Because of that understanding, they were able to grow the ruler's influence. I'm guessing that they must have thought that if they took a chance and lost the money, the ruler would be able to cover the loss and chalk it up to experience gained. The poor guy who just hid the money did so because he did not trust the ruler, he was afraid.
See, here's the difficult part: When I don't use all of what God has given me out of His vast stores I'm actually indicating that I don't trust God. Ouch.
The men who invested the ruler's money knew that they would have to give a report to the ruler about what they did with his money. They wanted to do the best they could with that money. They were not afraid! Instead, they were motivated by the ruler's great resources to take a big risk.
How I see that in my life is this: God has given me sooooo much! He has given me an abundance really. I have a nice warm bed to sleep in every night. I wake up having slept in peace and comfort all night long. I get to have my children with me all day and teach them at home. My husband does not worry about loosing his job. We have food on our table three times a day. That's just the physical, creature comforts! I've been given salvation from my sin, saved from the deprivation that is myself by the ultimate sacrifice of love--Jesus' death on the cross for my sins. Because of Jesus' resurrection, I know that the sacrifice was accepted and I've become one of His family. It doesn't stop there! I've been given the Holy Spirit to help me understand mighty God's words written in Scripture so that I might know the way to live in Christ.
What do I have to loose by sacrificing my self, my time, my resources so that I can make a difference in God's Kingdom? Nothing.
Not only was I challenged to rethink my "stuff"; but I was challenged to think about the very real fact that I don't truly trust God enough. Oh, I know how to act like I trust Him. I have trusted Him many times as we have moved five times in 17 years of marriage. But, I wonder do I really trust Him with all of me? with my entire life down to the point of the food on the table?
So I was processing all the things Pastor Mark was saying, then he told us of five or six folks from our church who ten years ago were given Kingdom Assignments with 100.00 to do something for God's Kingdom. The projects varied from helping in our community in some way, all the way to Uganda! Check out http://www.children-of-grace.org/ for the result of Mary Ann McCoy's Kingdom Assignment. Fabulous things were done in the name of Christ those ten years ago.
I had to ask myself at that point, "What do I have to loose?"
And THEN Pastor Mark said that the opportunity had come again to do the same thing again! 25 people would right then, on the spot, be handed a 100.00 Kingdom Assignment if they were interested. No need to have a project in mind, just a willingness to pray patiently for God to reveal something to the heart of the person and then the boldness to do it.
What do I have to loose? So, I found myself raising my hand and taking the assignment! I really have no idea what I'm going to do next. I do know that I'm excited to see where God takes me on this Kingdom Assignment journey. I am really wondering what I'm going to do next! I don't have that many connections in the community since I'm still new here.
Here's the deal though, I know that God has a plan which includes this assignment for me. The question will be, will I cooperate with Him? Will I trust Him enough to wait and hear what His assignment for me is? Will I be able to stay completely focused upon Him and building His kingdom and not my own reputation?
All of this means that my prayer life is about to take an interesting ride! Stay tuned for more to come.