Perhaps I am alone here and am not a very good Christian, but I occasionally come across a Bible verse and my initial reaction is…
This week’s story from Jesus (who I tend to have a lot less “yucky” moments with) about the servant and the master hit me this way.
It is a troubling little parable.
I thought Jesus called us friends not servants. I thought we should be motivated by love and not duty. I was struggling with this story for a minute, and then I clicked the handy “Need Inspiration?” button on Sacred Space.
Back in college, I remember a group of people who were trying to get me to attend their church. I know they meant well, but every time I was with them, they were trying to sell me on church. I never really felt like they wanted to really be my friend or care about me, they just wanted to get me to attend their church.
Not a great sale. No one wants to be around people with an agenda.
We know this in all realms of life. When someone has an agenda, you don’t pay as much attention.
I think this story is about agendas.
Sometimes I think we come to Jesus with an agenda. We want him to see all the good that we are doing, or how right we are, or how well we follow the rules. And we do this, not out of a sense of awe and wonder, but with the expectation that if I do what he wants, he will give me what I want.
This is a harsh text (and I think we need to keep in mind other discussions of Jesus saying we are friends instead of servants), but it is a texts that asks us to drop our agenda.
All throughout the Bible, God is trying to get us to see that this God is a unique kind of God. Other gods operate within this transactional method. You give them what they want, they (might) give you what you want. God wants us to know the unique God possesses.
This God does not function in a transactional sort of way. So we need to lose our agendas of trying to impress God to get what we want.
But this parable also comes in the context of faith. It is telling us something about the nature of faith.
Faith is not the assent to certain ideas or the willingness to get up and go to church on Sunday.
Trust that God is with us in our suffering.
Trust that God is working on our behalf.
Trust that we are unconditionally loved and never forgotten or abandoned.
Trust that we don’t have to earn God’s favor.
I think what this parable says, is stop trying to impress God and live like God means what God says.
This is difficult to do. Sometimes it is hard to believe I have inherit value. Sometimes it is hard to believe God has not given up on me. Sometimes it is hard to believe God is my shelter in the storm. Sometimes it is hard to want to do Jesus-y kind so things because we know the backlash we will receive.
In those moments, we trust that Jesus wants to show us the best kind of life, we close our eyes and we take the step forward.
True faith is courage, not a transaction.
And Jesus tells us this kind of faith moves mountains.
Which I don’t find yucky at all.