Friday, March 17, 2017

Did you expect obedience to be easy?

Let’s talk about today’s reading.  The parable of the wicked tenants is a huge important story.  There are so many layers to the parable Jesus shared you could probably dedicate a whole book to all the possible ways we can understand it and apply what it teaches.  Most of the meditations I’ve read today about this talk about either Jesus being the cornerstone, or making Him the cornerstone.  Important things!  Yet, as I read it, I feel compelled to write about another thing I see and share this perspective.  It’s something I think all saints in training need to be aware of as they go out and minister where they are.

In the beginning of the parable you see this unnamed man who has, apparently, worked very hard to be able to have a vineyard.  He then works very hard to set this vineyard up for success (He puts a hedge around it, he digs a wine press, builds a tower.)  This gives us a picture, in a very human way, that this man invested a lot of his money, time, work, and life into creating this opportunity.  There is potential in this work.  Great fruit can come from the investment this man has made.  He has done all the things we would consider to be right to get good things back.

The landowner then strikes a deal with people called tenants.  It doesn’t say specifically, but we can safely assume, that he offers them some sort of wage or deal where they are to work the land in return for something.  Again, he has done the work or investment that if we did we, like him, might assume would give us good things.  He obviously assumes this too because when it came time to reap something he sends his servants out to collect his part of the deal.  Then we read that the tenants kill the servants, and then ultimately the son.  All in hopes to get what the landowner has for free. (Can we take a moment and ponder why or in what reality one might think “If I kill this guy’s son he is going to put me in his will?!!?  But I digress…) 

Ok, let’s just pause there.  This landowner has worked hard.  He has done everything humanly possible to produce a positive outcome.  He has set himself, and presumably the tenants, up to have good things.  He did everything right and yet still comes against opposition he doesn’t expect from people he gave the opportunity to have co-success with him.  It’s not a huge leap to understand that God did this too for us.  He created this wonderful place, set us up as tenants, and boom!  We have been collectively rejecting, stoning, and killing His servants and ultimately His Son since the BC to the crucifixion.  However, there is another lesson here, a detail you might be missing as you look at the bigger picture. 

If you call yourself a Christian, you are a saint in training, you are working super hard to be in God’s will, doing God’s work, living a little more holy every day, being more like Christ with every confession, obedience, and work….You are being a good landowner investing  in the land.  To bring this into church lingo you are an active part of the Church Militant (that’s a warrior term which means you are fighting the good fight, with your armor of God on, in the spiritual warfare trenches).  Why then do you expect you won’t come up against opposition and have an easy ministry? 

Maybe this doesn’t apply to you as you expect actual warfare, but I know there are some-myself at times too-that this hasn’t occurred to yet.  We think that because we are in God’s will, doing what God wants of us, that life then will be easy and the path clear.  Yet, as we look at this parable, we look at the life of the perfect Jesus, and rewind back through the whole of the scripture we can get a different understanding.  Every servant, prophet, teacher, and person who served the Almighty came up against something.  There was opposition.  There were hard times.  There was betrayal.  They were at war with all that entails. 

The people outside of God’s will and work seemed to have an easy life sometimes.  They weren’t up against opposition.  The tenants in the parable were laying around with time to plot how they would get the bounty, not by work, but by murder.  Nothing was coming up against them.  They were doing easy, while the landowner was doing work and sacrifice. 

Being obedient doesn’t mean you are going to have it easy, in fact the opposite a lot of the time.  Being in His will means that through Jesus we have the ultimate victory, because Christ already claimed that for us.  Right now, though, we are as all the saints, prophets, and even Jesus.  We are doing the work, facing the warfare, walking in faith and obedience and as such, we should expect every kind of opposition. 

Don’t quit, but lean on the cornerstone of faith that is Jesus. Rejoice that you such a threat to the darkness that threatens this world that you are being rejected, persecuted, and opposed. That is faith.  That is the war of the Church Militant.  Praise God, the victory is ours, through Jesus.

Just some food for thought and prayer. 

Here I am, Lord, send me!