Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Place of the Unbeliever

"And the Lord said, 'Who then is the faithful and sensible steward, whom his master will put in charge of his servants, to give them their rations at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes.'Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But if that slave says in his heart, 'My master will be a long time in coming,' and begins to beat the slaves, both men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk; the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces, and assign him a place with the unbelievers. And that slave who knew his master's will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, will receive many lashes, but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few." Luke 12: 42-48 NASB

It's confession time. We've finally reached the verses I've been trying to avoid for more than a week, the verses that prompted the segue with Alfred. No avoiding them now, though. I, like most people, dread hard. 

Writing this post is hard. Some people won't like it. I've finally accepted that I can't help it if people don't like it. These are the words of Jesus. With that said, here we go...

I love warm and fuzzy.

It's good to love warm and fuzzy because Jesus is certainly warm and fuzzy sometimes, but He is also as firm as a steel girder sometimes, too. This is one of those times.

It warms my heart to read that the Master will put the faithful servant in charge of all His possessions. The servant will get better acquainted with his Master. They'll draw close. It's win-win.

BUT. There's hard truth we need to address.

If the servant thinks the Master's return is delayed and does whatever he wants, it's not going to be good. 

When I skimmed through "eating, drinking, and getting drunk" I first thought of someone discouraged and depressed. I imagined someone in shabby clothes sitting at a table in a bare room, surrounded by gray walls, under a bare lightbulb with a bottle of cheap whiskey and a glass, downing one shot after the other. That choice is certainly no way to get the commendation of our Lord, but it's not all Jesus had in mind.

The word used here is methysk┼Ź. This is an inceptive verb and indicates the process of an action. Most of us understand the process of "eating, drinking, and getting drunk", whether we've ever done that or not. In a way, it's a drinking party. (a party where alcohol is served and consumed, often to excess) 

If, instead of being totally committed to caring for the Master's kingdom, we choose to be unkind to those around us and to waste time in frivolous living, (eating and drinking and getting drunk) we cannot expect to receive a commendation.  Instead, that servant can expect his master to arrive unexpectedly and "cut him in pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers."

The word used for "cut him in pieces" is dichotome┼Ź, and is used to describe either cutting in two or a severe scourging. Because the servant is still alive (assigned a place with the unbelievers), it's thought to indicate a severe scourging. 

The "cut in two" is a subtle reference to the fact that the servant has been living a double life, (presenting himself as a faithful servant while, at the same time, living a life of unkindness, decadence, and pleasure). That double life has been/will be exposed by the Master.

When we choose to be a double-agent in the kingdom of God, we may fool others, but we will not fool God. He will not tolerate it. He will deal severely with the attempted deception.

The unfaithful servant has another punishment awaiting him, and it's worse than scourging. He will be "assigned a place with the unbelievers." The word translated as "assigned" can also be used to describe laying aside a garment, taking off a coat. The unfaithful servant will be removed from the place of believers and put in the place with the unbelievers (same word as infidels). 

In a way, if we want to act like infidels, God will treat us like infidels. He will place us with infidels. 

Being assigned a place with unbelievers is not a good destination, no matter how you parse this phrase. 

As far as I can tell, there are no unbelievers in heaven.

I don't see any other way to interpret the words of Jesus. The Greek is clear.

When we become disciples, we make a conscious decision to follow Christ. If we are disciples, we follow Him. We choose His priorities and His way of life. 

As disciples of our Master, we don't just follow Him. We obey Him

This is harsh, and there will be some who don't like these words. Talk to Jesus about it.

If you don't like the "place of the unbeliever", stop acting like the unbelievers.

It is past time for the people of God to stop living with one foot in both worlds. We cannot live like the world during the week and try to live for God on Sunday. It fools no one, certainly not God.

Pick a side. Make a choice. Live like you believe. 

In the end, we will be rewarded based on the choice we make, so we must choose well. 

Now's the time to evaluate our lives. How much "world" occupies our lives? Let's get rid of the things that entangle us and choose to live in a way that pleases our Master.
Our Father, forgive us for serving ourselves rather than serving You. Help us to relinquish the world and cling to the cross, serving You only, above all others. In Jesus' name, Amen.

#disciple #JesusChrist #followthenazarene