Thursday, August 25, 2022



In the days immediately before his death, Matthew records, Jesus spoke extensively about the coming destruction of Jerusalem. Within this discourse, he told a parable about what faithfulness looks like (Matthew 24:45-51).

Jesus compares the faithful and wise slave whose master charges him with providing the other house-slaves with their food in season, with the wicked slave who abuses his fellow slaves and indulges in reckless living. The former is entrusted with all that his master has; the latter is cut to pieces in the place of weeping.

At one level, this is a parable of perspective. From one perspective, the priests are the faithful servant, administering the daily sacrifices at the Temple; and Jesus is the glutton and drunkard who will be executed outside the city walls. From another perspective, Jesus is the faithful servant, feeding the people in the wilderness; and the priests are those who will be cut down in the city rubbish dump when the Temple is destroyed along with most of Jerusalem. What do you see?

At another level, this is a description of the idolatry that has led to this inevitable outcome. On close reading, there is only one servant, who starts out faithful and becomes wicked. The priests did not set out with the intention of being wicked. But somewhere along the line, the servant takes his eyes off the master, and allows the house-slaves he was appointed to minister to, to become an idol.

Whenever this happens, whenever the thing we love, the vocation entrusted to us by God, becomes an idol to us, we flip. Conservatives become destructives. Bible-believing Christians become biblically illiterate fundamentalists. Liberals become deeply illiberal. Catholics become schismatics.

The corrective against this is to keep our eyes on the master we serve, and to understand the season we are in, in relation to the thing entrusted to us. There is a time for every matter under heaven, a season for bearing fruit and for refraining from fruitfulness, for working and resting.

Learn to know the season your calling is in, and to notice the rhythmic changes from one season to the next. And how it relates to the vocations of others, also needed, in their season, for the good of the whole.


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