Friday, September 2, 2011

No time for playing it safe

A quick glance at the news reminds us that these are challenging days in which we live. Unemployment is still north of 9% in the US with little hope of recovery just yet. Syrian forces continue to gun down street protesters. Libya sits on a knife edge, millimeters from complete anarchy. As we dig deeper into the statistics and stories of lives and communities we see and hear things that trouble us much more deeply. Nearly a quarter of the people in the world today have never heard of Jesus once. Many of them are also suffering unimaginable pain brought on by poverty and its impact. I have been sharing about the communities where rape and STD's are the norm; that nearly a million people, mostly women and children, will be trafficked into slavery this year. Today 27,000 people, mostly women and children, will die from hunger-related diseases. At least three times that will die today and, as far as we know, go into a lost eternity.

God has brought the Parable of the Talents to my mind many times in the last year. I am not going to comment much on it because I think the words below from The Message speak for themselves. Just remember that Jesus put this in the context of "This is what the Kingdom heaven is like". There is an expected urgency from the Master, a wise use of what we have been given, regardless of the quantity. There is no room for, "But you only gave me one." There was a serious consequence for "playing it safe", holding on to what we have now and not seeking to take risks and invest for the sake of the master. These are not days to play it safe -- there is too much at stake for the people mentioned above and we have been called by the Master to be involved in taking the transformational message of the gospel in word and deed.

Here is how Jesus puts it in Matthew 14-30 (The Message):

"It's also like a man going off on an extended trip. He called his servants together and delegated responsibilities. To one he gave five thousand dollars, to another two thousand, to a third one thousand, depending on their abilities. Then he left. Right off, the first servant went to work and doubled his master's investment. The second did the same. But the man with the single thousand dug a hole and carefully buried his master's money. 

"After a long absence, the master of those three servants came back and settled up with them. The one given five thousand dollars showed him how he had doubled his investment. His master commended him: 'Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.'

"The servant with the two thousand showed how he also had doubled his master's investment. His master commended him: 'Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.'

"The servant given one thousand said, 'Master, I know you have high standards and hate careless ways, that you demand the best and make no allowances for error. I was afraid I might disappoint you, so I found a good hiding place and secured your money. Here it is, safe and sound down to the last cent.'

"The master was furious. 'That's a terrible way to live! It's criminal to live cautiously like that! If you knew I was after the best, why did you do less than the least? The least you could have done would have been to invest the sum with the bankers, where at least I would have gotten a little interest.

"'Take the thousand and give it to the one who risked the most. And get rid of this "play-it-safe" who won't go out on a limb. Throw him out into utter darkness.'"

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