Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten minas, and said to them, Engage in business until I come. -- Luke 19:13
Friday, May 15, 2015
Taking Care of Business
The traditional KJV says, Occupy till I come. Word Pictures in the New Testament indicates to us that a better sense might be “trade here while I’m coming”. Maybe it’s just me, but “engaging in business” carries a connotation of high finance and equity markets. I don’t think that’s what these servants were being called to do. They were not sitting in an office. The successful and commended servants were going on and plying the trade routes. I would imagine they had to make trips out to other places, buying and bringing back goods desired in the local marketplace. There was risk involved and potential loss. They probably suffered some losses and setbacks and had to work harder to make up for it.
They tell us, from this parable, that we ought to use our gifts as God intended, and I agree with that. Notice that in this version of the story, there are ten minas or talents, each given out to ten different servants. We do not have the inequitable distribution seen elsewhere. Every human being is given something precious and treasured by God. I am not very talented. About the only thing I ever excelled at in my youth was bucking hay bales. But I have this life, this soul -- the divine spark that Bob was talking about a couple of days ago.
When I pass from this life and stand before the judgment seat of Christ, I do not think He will ask me much about my hay hauling or my singing, whether I coded for the kingdom or how much money I spent on Girl Scout cookies or gave to missions. I think He will look at the life He gave me and see if I multiplied and enriched it. He will want to know if I risked myself by loving other people, including those on whom I had a chance to lose it all. He will want to know if I hid out in the basement, or if I went out through the war zones and the no-man’s lands. Did I ever defy the devil to add to gain more for the Lord? Or did I prefer to keep a low spiritual profile, to bury that spark and keep it out of sight to avoid being attacked?
It may be tough for me to answer. I do tend to avoid the critics, the skeptics, and some of the heretics. I am more comfortable being some distance from the edge of the precipice. I don’t know that I want to see how close I can get or if there is some narrow, knife-edged way to bridge the gap and get over where there are treasures I might bring back. Yet, isn't this, in a much greater way than I can imagine, what the Lord Himself did in the Incarnation?
Obviously we don’t want to gamble with our souls, but I do think we are called to invest and “trade” some in this world. I think missionaries and visionaries, spiritual and intellectual pioneers, artists and poets and prophets and creators of all kinds bring back treasures that enrich the lives of others and bring growth to their own souls. I am not going to be one of the heroes of the faith or a notable saint of any kind, but I am going to do what I can with the spark that I have.
I’m going love people who may reject me. I’m going to study and read and pray. I’m going to challenge the assumptions that the world system offers to me and expects me to accept. While I am at it, I may challenge some of the traditional interpretations of the Bible that my religion holds. Maybe I’ll look at the questions and objections of the skeptics to see if I can venture out to bring back answers for that market.
Now, there will be those who are concerned, frightened, perhaps even offended by us as spiritual traders. I understand. There is the potential to go off the tracks, to get lost or waylaid out there in the bush. I think, though, if we will listen carefully to our Guide, who will never leave nor forsake us, regardless of the dangers and tribulations of the trail, we’ll find our way safely back home.