Live like you mean it! Because God certainly meant something when we were created!
Wednesday my men’s Bible study enjoyed a discussion around the story Jesus told about the guy who buried his talent instead of putting it to work for God (Matthew 25:14-28).
We talked about the various gifts God has given us, about the trust God places in us to live the kind of lives we were created for, and about how much we have to trust – and believe – when we step out in faith to live without reservation.
Bottom line, it takes courage to live faith out loud, and it can be tempting sometimes to put all those possibilities and challenges in a box, bury it somewhere, and opt out of discipleship.
Once in a while when I’m speaking at a conference or retreat, I have an epiphany that takes me “off script.” Sometimes I actually remember to write the epiphany down before I forget what I said. It was a couple of years ago in Florida, I was talking about what is at stake when we decide to follow Jesus, and I wanted to say something that gave the guys pause, hopefully inspiring them to follow Jesus more closely.
“Imagine Jesus on the cross,” I said, “suffering and dying so that you – and so that I – might have this chance to be reconciled to God and to live an abundant life. Now imagine Christ looking at you, at your life, at the way you follow him from day to day…. Does Jesus nod his head in satisfaction, and say with conviction, ‘This is why I’m suffering, I’m glad I gave my life for him.’ Or does Jesus shake his head in frustration and disbelief, ‘This is what I’m dying for? I’m on the cross so he could live this pitiful excuse for a witness to me? Oh good grief….‘
I didn’t think about this Wednesday evening, and so I didn’t share it with the group. But it’s a great question to think about. What exactly it is that we’re burying? What are we sitting on, rather than investing in God’s Kingdom? Are we causing Jesus to shake his head in frustration and disbelief?
Jesus has given us all light – light and life. We can either shine, investing the light of Christ’s love and goodness in the lives of those around us, thereby increasing the light two-fold, ten-fold, a hundred-fold and more… or we can keep it under wraps, effectively buried for all the good it is doing the kingdom.
That’s why this passage finishes with the man left in darkness. Our imperative is to shine! The darkness is always our own decision. If we’re not willing to allow God to shine in and through us; if we don’t rekindle the fire; if we forget that being a disciple also involves making disciples; if we don’t believe enough to trust, trust enough to risk, risk enough to require courage….
If we don’t believe enough to trust, trust enough to risk, and risk enough to require courage, then we are likely not telling the world anything compelling about the gospel.
So shine already – DEREK