Christians love to talk about how you can read a scripture a hundred times and miss the point, and then all of a sudden, BOOM! God throws His revelation smack-down on you, and you, in awesome wonder try to understand why you never saw it before. Some will cite that God all of a sudden “deposited truth in your spirit”, as if you didn’t have this ability to comprehend what was there before. But that doesn’t jibe for me. There are plenty of unbelieving scholars and professors, hollow and empty of God, that grasp those things and simply don’t believe them.
Maybe it’s that old standby, “you can read the same scripture verse over and over and get something different from it every time.” That sounds extremely spiritual, but then to do that we have to factor in our own moods, feelings, or situations into how we are interpreting it each time, but doing that really devalues the scriptures’ intended meaning which was written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. We certainly don’t do this with all scripture, just those catchy ones that everyone likes. The, “I know the plans I have for you” and “I will overcome by the blood of the lamb” stuff.
Surely some scripture can be difficult to contemplate but we tend to like the “move of the spirit”, so we can turn scripture into what we want. So instead of the plan meaning 70 yrs of captivity, its, “God’s gonna give me a spouse.” Instead of overcoming by not loving our lives unto death, its, “were gonna do great things, and overcome all our difficulties in here and now.”
I’m not saying I can exposit scripture with the greats. I’m more of a blue-collar guy in a white-collar job. I really do need things explained simply to me. That also means I can be a bit of a pain, because if you start telling me this scripture actually means something it didn’t intend to, well, it gets me going. I think the phrase goes something like, “don’t pee on my leg and tell me its raining.” Because I’m kind of simple in this way, I tend to miss small little things in scripture that turn out to be extremely important.
The Parable of the Talents: (Matthew 25:14-30)
Too many times, with much fear and trepidation, I read this story and was fearful of my wasting the talents that God had given me. “Master was a harsh man”, the last servant says. This is the only place in the parable that has any description of the master. But even then the master is saying in reply to him, “I didn’t need you to double my money, just do something with it”. The master seems far from the harsh man the servant makes him out to be. But this servant saw his master as harsh and judgmental and was fearful. This wasn’t about doing something with the talents, but about how we view the master. Those were the messages that made me fear how much I wasn’t doing was because of a poor view of God that we were being taught. “If you’re not busy doing God’s work, then you must not be a Christian.” It appears he is judged for his lack of effort, but it’s because of his poor understanding of the master. If we see God as a harsh taskmaster, someone first and foremost to be feared, we are far removed the truth. It is that truth of who God truly is, full of grace and mercy, that sets us free to serve Him in all things. That’s the message to be preached. It’s not check your fruit, but do you know the tree…
The Sheep and the Goats: (Matthew 25:31-46)
This SHOULD be a scary portion of scripture, but with understanding, there might be even more to fear. At first glance, it seems that this is again telling us our salvation is partly determined by how much we are doing or if we are doing anything at all. Verse 44 implies that those being cast out actually DID the same work as those who are inheriting the kingdom:
“Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison and did NOT minister to you.”
We know the church is full of both sheep and goats and even goats sometimes do the work in the church. The question is why? Are they really serving those in need and in turn Christ the Lord? Or do they serve to be seen and given praise by men. I ask myself this question at times. I wonder for my own heart when I’m paid a compliment or encouraged towards a greater responsibility. I know I was a goat and God made a sheep but sometimes I wonder if im still too much goat. Being a goat, doesn’t mean we don’t work, it means we don’t work for the true shepherd. The tendency is to hear in this parable, “get busy doing so I can show God that I am one of his sheep.” All the work in the world won’t do that. In fact, the actual sheep in the parable appear to be unaware that they were serving Jesus by serving others. It seems they were not preoccupied with that, just with serving. Once again, this is more about knowing God, knowing the Savior than serving, because when we know the one we are serving, there is a tendency for works to follow.
This is probably old news for some, and I’m just late to the party, but as I sit and hear the scriptures taught, it seems as if my eyes are being opened for the first time. Scriptures that truly show me its all about Jesus. About having faith in him as Lord and Savior.
For this I am thankful…