In HOPE

  In HOPE 5.28                                  back to home                        David Timms

Ministry Resource

Here's a book from a different perspective. Amidst all the cheer-leading and hoopla about leadership, Gary McIntosh and Samuel Rima have written a book entitled Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership (Baker, 1998, 233pp). They deal with several major flaws that afflict many of us and limit our effectiveness.   

HOPE Happenings

Our Accreditation visit last week was a major event for the University, and we were greatly encouraged by the verbal report of the visiting team. Thanks to any of you who prayed us through this process!

By the way, our President's birthday just happens to coincide with Halloween. Happy Birthday, Dr. Derry. Birthdays are a wonderful way to celebrate life in general and a life in particular.

 

Hope International University
Fullerton, CA 92831

 

"To live for God is not to live risk-free; it is to live free to risk."


Risking $10 million

It's an awkward text, though theparable is familiar enough to us all.

The Kingdom of heaven is like a man who called in his slaves and gave them varying sums of money. The first was given about $10 million (6000 days' wages); the second received $5 million; the third was entrusted with $1 million (Matthew 25:14-30). They all got a chunk of change - and had to decide if and how they would invest it.

As Jesus tells the parable, the master returns and calls the slaves to give account. The first had doubled the money, as had the second. The third had simply buried the money, for fear of losing it and incurring the master's wrath. The Master commends the first two and condemns the third slave, describing him as a "wicked, lazy slave" (v.26) and a "worthless slave" (v.30). Indeed, the master orders the last slave be "cast into outer darkness" (v.30).

This is how the Kingdom works?

The parable is problematic. In our performance-oriented church culture, we often interpret the story in terms of gifts and abilities - "use it or lose it," "don't waste what God has given you," "those who work the hardest in the Kingdom will get the most," "exercise your spiritual gifts and earn the Father's pleasure." W e confuse the monetary term "talent" for our own capacities and abilities, then twist the story into decidely un-gospel proportions.

Perhaps we read the story best from a different angle. The real issue is not the performance of the slaves, but their perspective of the master.

The first two slaves seemed to understand that if they risked it all and failed, they would be forgiven. The last slave feared retribution, so risked nothing. The first two slaves responded to a generous master. The third slave presumed he had a capricious lord. In other words, their view of the master's character determined their actions.

Many of us embrace a faith based on fear - anxious that we'll fail the Father; fearful that we'll underperform; worried that we'll achieve too little for His pleasure. Such fear always limits - and even paralyzes - us. But when our faith is grounded in His faithfulness to forgive, we can risk all.

Our reluctance to take risks for God reflects adversely on His character, and is thus "wicked." He does not condemn failure but failure to try. Our utter conservatism frequently reduces us to inaction, and thus might be called "lazy" or "idle." And our "play it safe" attitude renders us "useless" or "worthless" to a God who is recklessly seeking to reconcile the world to Himself.

It's not about our performance but about our perspective. The Master's joy - into which the first two slaves enter - is not grounded in their success, but in their correct assessment of His character.

What's our assessment of His character? And how does it shape our decisions and actions? May we see more than the demanding Accountant.

In HOPE -

David

(Thanks to my son, Matthew, who threw light on this parable for me.)

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David Timms serves in the Graduate Ministry Department at Hope International University in Fullerton, California. "In HOPE", however, is not an official publication of the University and the views expressed are not necessarily those of the Administrators or Board of the institution. "In HOPE" has been a regular e-publication since January, 2001.

For back issues of In HOPE, see http://www.hiu.edu/inhope/