We all make special preparations for an important visitor, getting everything ready and in order ... hopefully with time to spare so that when the doorbell rings we can show our guests straight in.
This is the image in the passage today: readiness, only with the catch
that the time of arrival is unknown. The passage is a re-run of Matthew 24/25. Remember that had a progression, with the readiness of the bridesmaids, the investment of abilities, culminating with what the King finds us doing at the very end. Will he find us dispensing grace or not?
Just think about it. In v35-37 Jesus describes the returning master becoming a servant to wait on those who were faithful. Thats a WOW! The King of Kings will serve us ...
Yet this is a hard passage. v46 has the master cutting the unfaithful into pieces, and v47-48 talks of punishment beatings. Where has Jesus meek and mild gone? Can people lose their salvation? Reading further doesn't help, with talk of division in the ranks. We might have thought there would be a clue back in v41 with Peter's question. Yet Jesus never directly answers!
Instead Jesus simply talks of faithfulness - being faithful to the set task. He uses both a positive and a negative: one faithfully administers the provisions, the other abuses and acts with great injustice. It is that hideous injustice that warrants being cast outside, since it betrays a lack of faith in the master. For those simply found lacking the punishment is at least measured: grace abounds.
So will we be found by God to have been faithful, or idle/complacent, or worse as downright unjust?
Note though the subtlety of what the master requires. It is not stunning success, nor has the master specified all the details of how the task must be done. Instead the requirement is simply to be alert, ready, on the job, dispensing grace to those we find around us. The servant is entrusted and empowered to get on with it.
In our Seeking to Worship, Seeking to Serve we strategically want to model community, and for that we allow a diversity of small groups rather than enforcing 100% conformity. The groups are entrusted to form open communities that dispense grace to those around them - supporting members so that they have a sustainable spiritual walk which can embrace the breadth and depth of mission opportunity. This is effectively a minimum standard of expectation placed on each group: coasting is not an option!
Like the master and entrusted servant this is an approach which is low on control, high on accountability. The fundamental point is that we are all called to be faithful, we must all give an account, ultimately to the King. Our discipleship should be geared with this in mind, hence we are still on the same personal discipleship key question and challenge from a couple of weeks back.
God has put His riches in our hands. How will He find us using it?