As I have been sitting here considering this week’s Gospel (Matthew 25.14-30) and what it has to say to us for our every day living. I have to say it is an ‘ouchy’ lesson but not because it is hard but because we must choose to do it. What is the lesson? It is about learning to obey and being obedient and diligent in your life which includes the things of the Spirit. Obedience isn’t all that hard, until it runs counter to what we what or believe. That’s when we get confronted about the path that we are walking and are called to make changes. Changing always meets resistance. Even when the need for change is acknowledge and deemed necessary, there is fear over loss and retribution for what is happening.
So how do we learn to obey, even when we are afraid and facing change? Well, firstly, we need to learn to receive from God. I have a friend who is fond of saying, “It is more blessed to receive than to give.” And you are reading this and thinking that he has it backwards! I think he is right. We need to acknowledge that all the things in our lives that we possess have been given to us by God. Our hands were empty, and God filled them. This means that we must move the Church then from a theology of scarcity to a theology of abundance. What does this look like? It looks like standing with a bishop from South Sudan in the middle of a local Wal-Mart Super store. The Bishop is lifting his hands in praise to God for how I am blessed because of all the things there are to buy in the store and for al the good things that there are in my life.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I will never look a store that same way again. I always felt intimidated by the fact that I cannot have all I want and so scurry around to buy what I can afford and get out before I spend too much. I had not realized that I was blessed to be in the presence of some much and that I can buy what I need so that my family is cared for.
The world thinks that whoever has the most toys when he dies, wins. But that is not what we think as Christians. It would b easy to think that if you have more, you are blessed. Thing is, the more you have, the better you had better be at using it for the benefit of others and for the kingdom. Obedience is faithfulness in action. One can claim to have the best theology in the world but if it never reaches out, never actually has a benefit and impact, of what worth is it to anyone else, including God?
And if there is fear in obeying because it is hard, one needs to keep in mind that there is also joy. There are too many who wish to serve God and the Gospel on their own terms. It is about what they can accumulate for themselves rather than focusing on what God has for them and doing as he asks. All that God asks as I understand it, is that we be faithful to him with what we have been given. The amount is not as important as the faithfulness is. Out of the faithfulness, comes fruitfulness (or offspring). Churches that are being obedient to the word are led into joy and joy causes growth and growth leads into new ministries and new kinds of service which lead into opportunities for new people to follow and be obedient and revive the circle all over again.
So how do we start this circle? Here are some of the basics that we need to move into:
1. We must encourage and build up one another and maintain it as an ongoing work.
2. We need to respect our leadership and pray for them regularly. They deserve respect because they are leading and are providing for the life and unity of the mission of the Church.
3. Be patient with everyone and suffer with those who need compassion because we are the Body of Christ and we are all God’s people. Warn the idle, strengthen the fearful, assist the weak and the young in the faith.
4. Allow no retaliations for wrong doing. Learn to forgive and then to forget. Choose to be kind to everyone.
5. Choose always to be joyful. Choose to pray unceasingly – in just with words but also in the attitude you carry in life. In every circumstance, choose to give thanks to God. Some blessings have strange names.
6. Strive to life a common life that focuses on Christ by serving the Father in the strength given by the Spirit.
7. Christ will keep you blameless to the day of judgement through the call he has placed on your life. He will bring to completion the good work he has begun in you and he will be faithful to his promises to you; only it will be in his way and on his time. We must place our trust and confidence in God so that he can help us to work out our salvation, and fear and trembling maybe required.
Remember that it is more than just learning to trust God for what is to come, it is also realizing that he is trusting us to do what he has asked us to do so that the kingdom can come. Being faithful is not an accident but is continually a choice we must all make. Being faithful allows God to give us honour as we bring him glory and draw in his kingdom with him.