Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Faithful Servant

Matthew 24:45-51 (ESV)
"Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? [46] Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. [47] Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. [48] But if that wicked servant says to himself, 'My master is delayed,' [49] and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, [50] the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know
[51] and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Who then is the faithful and wise servant whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? Like as splash of cold water in the face, the audience of these ominous passages comes back in focus. He is speaking to the disciples and through them to pastors of every generation. He will be putting the disciples in charge of the household, and they in turn will be placing others into the pastoral office, as they do throughout the book of Acts. The pastoral office grows out of the apostolic office. They aren’t one in the same, but there is a connection.
There is actually a lot of authority that comes a long with being a pastor. Jesus warns against beating the fellow servants. He is talking about more than physically beating them. More to the point is the brow beating so many give from a pulpit. Giving them law and not following through with Gospel. Having no compassion for your fellow man, sinners like you. Being a faithful servant will keep you up at night second guessing at times.
But then it is curious this bit about eating and drinking with drunkards. That is in fact what Jesus did on many an occasion. I read this, and think well gee the other day I went to J and J’s lounge, had a few beers, and enjoyed the company. Jesus ate and drank with sinners, shouldn’t I be doing the same? I have to say I think that would be too simplistic a view. The overall picture is an abusive servant, who takes it upon himself to beat others and be drunk squandering his master’s money etc. In first Thessalonians it talks, which seems to draw on this saying of Jesus for its substance, being sober is equated with faith in the gospel, drunkenness then being the opposite of that. The Gospel brings a sobering assessment of life that allows it to be enjoyed and loved even while suffering hardships. It realizes that this life is the one Christ died for, it makes one wake up to love one’s fellow servants. It won’t drink the wine that turns one’s teeth on edge. It won’t buy into fear mongering, and brow beating, drunken fanaticism.

No comments: