Luke 12:32-40 “Perseverance Pays Off”
It is difficult to believe that the beginning of a new school year is upon us. For the past several weeks we seen advertisements for back to school specials, and have noticed the aisles stocked with school supplies at the stores where we shop. Today we see children coming forward with their backpacks for a blessing. Though it may seem too soon, another school year is upon us.
All of this school orientated activity might cause some of us to remember our school years—with both fondness and horror. I remember my high school algebra class. Mrs. Didvig was our teacher. She had the habit of teaching us a math concept, giving us an assignment and then leaving the room. Once she left, the room would break out into a cacophony of activity—very little of which was related to doing our assignment. Those moments of her absence were a mixture of fun and fear. Some members of the class enjoyed pushing the envelope and seeing what they could get by with. But if Mrs. Didvig ever caught us her wrath was a horror to behold. (As a pastor, I must assure you that I was always one of those who never fooled around and always dutifully worked on my assignment. I always wonder why, though, I always struggled in math.)
Our gospel story today plays out a similar scene to our nostalgic classroom. The master is away and the servants are entrusted to be about their work while he is gone. Some prove worthy of that trust and other don’t. What lessons do we learn from our classroom experience and the gospel story, and how do we apply them to our lives?
We don’t need to come down too hard on the servants in the story. Those who weren’t prepared when the master returned probably didn’t intend to be unprepared. They simply became distracted. We can understand their predicament. In the classroom the conversations that are occurring around us are distracting. The blank piece of paper that needs to be doodled on is distracting. The bird outside the classroom window is distracting. We want to be good students, but we get distracted.
Many of us go through life like workers on their morning commute. In order to get to work, they need to drive; driving is their primary task. While they drive, however, they are talking on cell phones, text messaging, putting on make up, reading the paper, or eating a breakfast sandwich and drinking a hot cup of coffee. An accident happens, but they didn’t mean for it to happen. They got distracted.
We’d like to be better disciples of Jesus Christ, but we get distracted. There are the demands of work, chauffeuring the kids to their various activities, home chores, and soon football. It is difficult to stay focused.
Our troubles may begin with our attempts to lead a balanced life instead of a centered life. A balanced life has many goals and seeks to attain them all at the same time. We have goals of being a good Christian, a good worker, a good spouse, a good parent, physically fit, and a connoisseur of life. A centered life has one goal. We are disciples of Jesus Christ we seek to live out that reality in our work, our home, our volunteer activities, and our social life.
As has often been said, “It’s not about us, it’s about God.” Like the servants in the story, our calling is to serve the master. The challenge before us is to live out our calling without being diverted from our task by distractions.
There are ways to help us stay focused and task orientated. Worship, fellowship, study and prayer are Christian disciplines that enable us to be persistent in our task.
We are challenged to be creative in being disciples of Jesus Christ in our work, family, service opportunities, and social times. These do not need to be distractions, but opportunities to live out our faith.
Jesus tells his followers that they do not need to fear. There are 365 times in the Scriptures, one for every day of the year, that God tells his people not to fear. God must have done this for a reason.
If we are living out our faith as disciples of Jesus Christ—not playing around while the teacher is out of the room—we have no need to fear God’s wrath.
When we enter areas of evil, while we are about faithful ministry, we have no need to fear, because God is with us and God is greater than anything we will ever encounter.
We live our lives with focused, fearless faith.
We are baptized, children of God. God has assured us of his steadfast love and his constant presence in our lives. God also invites us to focus our lives in being his faithful, obedient servants.
We may try and fail, but we know we are forgiven. We will try again, because we know that know that faithful, persistent discipleship will transform our lives, our families, our community and our world.