If you’re like me, you’ve given up on New Year’s resolutions. Maybe you have some goals, but let’s be real, you just don’t want to be resolute about them. If they happen, great, but you don’t want the pressure of commitment and it seems nobler not to fail. Innate in us is a collective “maintenance” resolution. Let’s just not let things get any worse than they are right now. Comfort and safety. Good ole American ideals.
Jesus said life in the Kingdom of God does not operate that way. Comfort and safety are replaced with risking all. Faith and trust are paramount. These concepts are part of Jesus’ last teaching on the way to the cross in Matthew 24 and 25. We know the story as the parable of the talents. (Read Matthew 25:14-30.)
Jesus has been talking about his return; he’s about to lay down his life, rise again, and ascend to the Father, but he will come back, and we won’t know the day or the hour. He’s using stories to teach his disciples and us how to live in the meantime. The ten virgins taught us to know the bridegroom and to be there when he returns. The three servants teach us to invest in the growing kingdom of God.
Sometimes, we think kingdom living is mostly about getting all the doctrine and theology right. We’re so afraid of getting something wrong that we’re afraid to do anything at all! We just keep reading and re-reading the manual, and don’t get out into the game! Jesus said to put his words into practice (Mt 7:24), to go and proclaim the kingdom (Mt 10:7), to take what you’ve been given and put it to work! God’s been saying it from the very beginning, “Be fruitful and multiply!” (Ge 1:22)
Being ready for Jesus’ return is not a numbers game. He’s not going to line you up and count your money nor the number of people you have baptized. What he will do is examine your heart. Will he see faith? “For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance,” Jesus said. (25:29) Have you trusted him with what you have? Have you listened? Have you done what he’s told you, specifically, to do when he’s told you to do it? Have you been willing to take risks when asked? Have you been certain of what you could not see, despite your doubts?
There’s not a flow chart. Some get a little to work with; some get a lot. Only together are we the body, moved by the head, Jesus himself, to accomplish His purposes for the sake of the world and for the glory of God. Does that make you uncomfortable? Good. Discomfort and risk. Good ole Kingdom ideals.