Saturday, April 8, 2017

April 8

Deuteronomy 32:28-52; Luke 12:35-39; Psalm 78:56-64; Proverbs 12:24

(It's a gloomy, gray and cool day at my house, which I'm LOVING, since all the sun and temperate weather of Southern California can make me long for seasons.  Perfect for time in God's word!  It is nice, though, to have a short reading...)

Our Luke text today unsettles me, raising a ton of thoughts.  I mean, how shocking that the master "will dress himself to serve, will have [his servants] recline at the table and will come and wait on them" (Lk. 12:37)!  These servants, whose job it is to be ready, are rewarded for doing their duty with excellence and diligence.  My 21st century self loves this - it's the American work ethic of effort-and-effect at play.  Consider, though, the nature of the reward: they are honored in a manner that would likely discomfit them, throwing their routines and expectations upside down.  If it were me, I'd rather have some cash money or an extra day off!  But this master is a proxy for Jesus, so we can learn something about how we are to relate to him and about his heart for us.  Our obedience, our service, does not go unnoticed and is not taken for granted.  Jesus will reward us when he finds us "ready [though...he came] at an hour when [we did] not expect him" (Lk. 12:40).

Then, of course, I worry about whether I'm like the manager in the next parable.  How many times to I say to myself, "My master is taking a long time" (Lk. 12:45) to do X, and so take matters into my own hands?  I may not "beat the menservants and maidservants and eat and drink and get drunk" (Lk. 12:45), but don't I shade the truth to look a bit better on my resume, sure that Jesus won't provide the necessary job with the necessary salary?  Don't I contemplate dissolving my marriage vows, sure that Jesus will never be able to turn my spouse around and restore my joy in that relationship?  Don't I speak sharply or jealously or maliciously, sure that Jesus doesn't have the time to be concerned with the petty overflow of my heart?

And I'm positively stopped in my tracks with the words, "From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded" (Lk. 12:48).  I have been given much, but I'm afraid of what that might require.  I've got a little bit of my Puritan ancestors in me - worried that my good things might be taken away if it seems like I'm enjoying them too much.  Is the axe just waiting to fall on me or my loved ones?  Or what if I'm not capable of the "much" that God will demand of me?  What if I let him down?  What if I don't want to go live in the uber-urban areas of Los Angeles and send my children to schools where violence is rampant and test scores are down?

This is no sweet baby Jesus.  This is no gaunt scholar, teaching esoteric truths.  This is a firebrand, come to bring division rather than peace (Lk. 12:51).  This is a prophet, calling out the blackness in our hearts and exhorting us toward change with words like iron.  I'm unsettled, but I'm stirred, too.  I'm caught by Jesus' passion and his vision.  I want to be the wise servant, the faithful manager, the person who reads the signs correctly (Lk. 12:54-56), the man who reconciles on the way (Lk. 12:58).  These words in Luke are not meant to frighten or browbeat us; they are a call to action, like Moses' words in Deuteronomy.  "Take to heart all the words I have solemnly declared to you this day....They are not just idle words for you - they are your life" (Dt. 32:46-47).  Take and eat, friends.  These words are our life.

- Sarah Marsh

 How did God speak to you in Scripture today? Click here to share your reflections on God's word or read past posts. We'd love to hear from you.

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