Sunday, April 3, 2016

Seeking Those who are Lost; Investing in the Kingdom of God

Today's Reading:
  • Luke 19:01 - 19:27
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Luke 19:01 - 19:27

Today's reading focused on two stories - that of Zacchaeus the tax collector, and the Parable of the Ten Servants. Zacchaeus was a chief tax collector; in other words, a regional tax collector who oversaw subordinate collectors. This made Zaccheaus a very rich man. But Zaccheaus was drawn to the Lord Jesus Christ, so much so that he climbed a tree (apparently a very demeaning thing for a man of his stature to do) just to get a glimpse. Jesus called Zacchaeus by name down from the tree and invited himself to dine in his home. This upset people, for they new Zacchaeus sinned by stealing from people, making himself rich in the process. The story ends with verse 19:10:

"For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost."
It can be hard to remember that Jesus is seeking those furthest from Him. Most of us have been that person far separated from Jesus in our lives. The closer we walk with the Lord, the more righteous we try to become to align with the Word of God and remain obedient, the easier it is to forget that Jesus calls the sinners. He calls the worst of the worst, He wants all to belong to Him. I know many people feel uncomfortable trying to find a church home. They feel like they have to "clean up" their lives to become good enough to find a church and become closer to the Lord. But that is the opposite of what needs to happen. The church needs to welcome the sinners with open arms, to bring them in, to help them with their walk towards Jesus. I know my church has been an integral part of my growing relationship with Christ, for this very reason, and I am so very thankful for that. When I walked into my church for the first time, I didn't feel judged; instead I felt loved. I felt genuine interest for myself and my family, and it was wonderful. I began to attend regularly, and slowly work through the things that were separating me from the Lord. It is a constant work in progress; a never ending work, but it helped me to realize that you don't need to be "fixed" to find and attend a church. The church will help to fix you through the love of Jesus Christ. 

Onto the second part of the reading - The Parable of the Ten Servants. This parable reminds us that God has invested in us and that we are expected to grow that investment. The concept of the story is financial, as a king has given each of his servants ten pounds of silver to invest while he was away. The first servant made ten times as much, the second made five times as much, and the last made exactly nothing; he simply returned the original amount to the king. This, of course, infuriated the king, who expected at least something in return, even if just a little interest. To the other two servants, he gave them proportional responsibilities in his kingdom.

Although the concept of the parable is financial, I see that this parable can apply in many different ways in our lives. Yes, we have a financial responsibility to tithe and to give God what is His, regardless of our own income. The more we can give, the better. That will bless people and help to grow God's kingdom. But there are other things, too - such as giving our time, our talents, and simply spreading the word about Jesus Christ to friends and family. This is a hard topic for me because I know I don't give as much of myself as I should. I try to spread God's Word, but that is very difficult for me too, as I am a very shy and introverted person. I have to remind myself that the work done here on Earth has eternal consequences. What will my reward be in Heaven? What kind of return have I given compared to all the Lord has blessed me with?This parable is a great reminder that we are plant, grow, and harvest the things given to us for the good of the Lord.