The Parable of the Ten Pounds

Since I have started to feel a little sick, I have been worrying about the future. How will I take my tests? What will people think if I get salmonella again? I have been fighting, eating healthier foods and herbs, etc. But what is more important than the health of the body is the health of the soul.

What I should have instead been thinking of, all along, is how to share the Good News in whatever small way possible. I have been given the truth by the grace of God. Why not share it?

There is a parable that I think is relevant to this, unless I have been misinterpreting it. You should read it, it’s in Luke 19. Anyway, a nobleman gives ten slaves a pound each. The master commends the one who turned the pound into five pounds and the one who turned a pound into ten pounds. But one slave wraps his pound in cloth. He says, “For I was afraid of you, because you are a harsh man; you take what you did not deposit and reap what you did not sow” (Luke 19:21). This slave gets his pound taken from him.

You may think that is unjust. After all, the slave kept his money safe, didn’t he? Sure, he didn’t earn any interest, but look, he kept it safe and sound. What’s wrong with his master anyway? That is the same objection that the slave had against the master. As you can see in the part quoted above, the slave thought the master was somewhat unscrupulous, accusing him of reaping what he did not sow. In the same way that we may think, secretly, that God is unjust. Maybe that is what stops us from sharing His word sometimes. We are afraid of offending others. We are reluctant to defend a God who judges people based on the way they live (although he also loves).

Enough of this! Let’s take the apology out of apologetics! Why should we apologize for the fact that God is sovereign? Why must we dance around the truth? What will they think of me? Won’t they think I’m overbearing or weird or a hypocrite?

I know that’s my thought process.

Not right now, though! Not today. In real life, I may hide in my corner of cowardice, but not here! Jesus is Lord! I dedicate my whole being to Him! Who’s going to stop me anyway?

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At the Feet of Jesus

I don’t recall reading this parable in Bible study. Perhaps it’s because it’s a little disturbing.

Jesus is dining with a Pharisee, and something very interesting happens. From Luke 7:

37 And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, 38 and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he spoke to himself, saying, “This Man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner.”

40 And Jesus answered and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.”

So he said, “Teacher, say it.”

41 “There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?”

43 Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.”

And He said to him, “You have rightly judged.” 44 Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wipedthem with the hair of her head. 45 You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. 46 You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. 47 Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”

48 Then He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

49 And those who sat at the table with Him began to say to themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”

50 Then He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”

Perhaps I found this a little disturbing because I can relate to it. It’s happened to me before where I’ve felt so wretched, so sinful that I would violently cry and perform strange and self-depricating rites. Although I am persuaded I did not do any of it as sincerely as this woman here. She is aware of how grievous her sins are. She is literally at the feet of Jesus. What a profound image of submission! Jesus extols her for it, defending her before the Pharisee. He forgives her sin

We know something that this woman doesn’t know. We know that our sin is already forgiven thorough the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ. How does that make us feel?

Often, we feel nothing. We are numb. We try to pay attention to the words of a hymn we are singing, we try not to yawn. And we tell ourselves what we are feeling, how God is moving us instead of simply feeling and being moved. 

Sometimes, the Gospel has no meaning for us. It is full of words, words that we have all heard before. We listen to interpretations of these words through sermons or speeches, possibly even films or songs, but still we are turned off somehow. 

But there is hope! There is hope for those of us who feel empty and neglected by God. Although we are asleep spiritually, in no time we can be awakened again, with more vigor than ever! Arise fellow citizens of status symbol land! The glorious kingdom of God is here! Which compels me to revisit the famous ask, seek, knock passage, which I think I am finally beginning to understand. From Luke 11:

And I tell you, Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 11 What father among you, if his son asks for[b] a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent;12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

There you have it! it is the Holy Spirit that the Lord is so excited to give to us if we only pray for it! And with the power of the Spirit, we will find our hope and our joy. 

 

 

 

 

A Moral Predicament (And you can decide!)

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The life of a Christian is wrought with all kinds of moral predicaments, as it should be, I suppose. Do I talk to this homeless guy? Get a divorce? Confront the annoying person? Take this job? Marry him/her? Forge that signature? Tell the lie or spare the embarrassment? Well, I don’t need to tell you about all the kinds of decisions that a person will face, I’m sure we all have enough examples of our own.

My latest moral predicament has been centered around a short play that I am writing as an assignment for my playwriting class. I went in thinking that, somehow, I was going to glorify God through this play, find a way to “witness” if you will. It wouldn’t be easy, but I was going to do it. Not in the most obvious way, of course, because that probably wouldn’t work for my assignment. So I thought, “maybe I’ll do some kind of allegory.” Take a page from CS Lewis, yeah, won’t that be clever.

Now, instead of that great idea that I was going to mysteriously bring into fruition, now I have just kind of an ordinary play, but with some creative twists, the kind of trash us writers live for. I have four college kids in line for Space Mountain at Disneyland. All of them are Christian, but they’re not exactly exemplary people. One is a girl named Lizzie who is a new friend of a bubbly creature named Jeanine. Then there is a couple, Natalie and Jay. Throughout this interaction, Lizzie feels excluded and wonders why she was invited in the first place. But Natalie and Jay, the perfect couple, suddenly engage in a nasty fight, and Lizzie, too, explodes. The themes in this play are mainly hypocrisy, human nature, and social position. Oh, and by the way, the word ‘bastard’ is included in this play. I tried to avoid all other language and borderline language. How do we feel about that?

Even though everyone is a jerk, Jeanine, at least, realizes her imperfection, and the voice of reason, or God, if I may be so bold, has the last word. In a subtle kind of way, of course, because us writers are continually trying to be subtle and at the same time, powerful with our words.

Well, I’m not so sure about this whole thing. Is this the way that God wants me to bring him glory, or should I just shout the message from the rooftops instead, as they would say? Mind you, Jesus spoke in parables to deliberately confuse those who were not willing to understand, but well, he was Jesus. And He always spoke most directly about the kingdom of God. So I don’t know if that applies to me at all.

Well, no one said that life wouldn’t be difficult and filled with conflicts of interest. If anyone has any suggestions for this play and/or my soul, they are welcome. I have already made some changes that I think are favorable for my purposes, but I still wonder if I should just scrap it.

 

Media: notoriousspinks.com

Cliches That Are True #2: Life Isn’t Fair (Duh?)

This morning, while brushing my teeth (which always gives me good ideas) I realized an important reason why it is often so hard to be happy, to throw your cares and frustrations under a rug, and rejoice in the fact that you are saved by Jesus, have food to eat, and all your faculties at disposal. If you do not have food to eat and all your faculties at disposal, then you may have permission to be mopey from time to time, so this doesn’t apply to you.

The reason it is hard to be happy is not that you haven’t bought enough self help books, or haven’t meditated enough. The reason may not even be that your life lacks meaning, though very often that is the case. It may very well be that you have faulty assumptions about life itself. We’ve all heard the phrase “Life isn’t fair.” But do we really believe it, all the time? Don’t we sometimes try to build our happiness on crumbling foundations, like the assumptions that: life is essentially fair, people are rational, and others will try to see things from our perspective?

How do you think Jesus felt about getting crucified? He knew it was coming, but still He was a little down about it at times, naturally. It wasn’t fair that the people wanted him dead. What crime did he commit? So life wasn’t fair to him, why should it be fair all the time to anyone?

And then, of course, there’s trying to build joy on faulty foundations. Yes, now that I’ve imparted my nugetette of worldly wisdom, it’s time for the spiritual. Ever try to build joy on faulty foundations? Joy, as opposed to happiness, which is deeper and more understated, which requires, in my opinion of the word, a kind of security and peace that you cannot glean from a new alarm system or a safer car. Joy is the conundrum, because I believe there is only one source of it. I think you can guess what that is. But sometimes, we try to build it ourselves. We try to build it off yet another faulty foundation, the principle that we are masters of our own destiny, the final arbitrators when it comes to our little slice of humanity. We erect it from the fruits of our success and adorn it with the musings from our sentimentality. And then, one day, it just sinks down, because we built it on sand. Ooopps.