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Monday, October 5, 2009

The Bankers of Heaven

“Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.”

Matthew 25:27

We all should know the story by now. Christ’s famous parable about the 3 servants and the great big wad of cash their master had entrusted them with while he went on a long journey. To one he gave five “talents” (one talent is equal to about a thousand dollars), to another two talents and to the third one talent.

He wasn’t showing favouritism either. This Master of the house knew his servants individual capabilities and so entrusted them with exactly what he knew they could manage.

Then he went on his trip.

Each servant goes out and does something with their master’s cash.

The first with the most invests it wisely and turns it into a whopping $10,000, while the second goes and doubles his share….

But the third…

This guy is of the “afraid of nothing” variety and out of fear and laziness goes and takes his measly $1000 and buries it in the ground.

The story goes that the Master returns and settles accounts with his servants.

The guy with the five grand brings the other five and the Master utters those famous words that every true Christian longs in his heart to hear – “Well done good and faithful servant, you have been faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things…”

The second gets the same reward and is ushered into greater responsibility by his Master’s happy promotion…

But the third…

He comes along and says in a nutshell – I did nothing with your money, here have it back…

Or to be exact – “Master” (what nerve to still call his Master “Master” when he hasn’t even done his job?) he said, “I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’

Needless to say his Master was not happy. He accuses (and rightly so) the servant of being wicked and lazy but then he says the most interesting thing – “Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.”

This verse had never really done much to attract my attention until it jumped out at me today. Who are the bankers?

It is obvious that the Master is the Lord and we are his servants and when people tell this parable they like to talk about our “talents” being the skills that God has given each and every one of us to do great deeds for The Kingdom… but does anyone ever mention this obscure little group of people called “The Bankers?”

I’ll get to that in a minute but first I want to address the usual interpretation of the word “talents” as meaning skills. Now I think this is OK but is not the whole story. If you want to teach a devotional or a sermon or even apply this scripture to yourself as the talents being your abilities and personal cleverness then fine, but the danger is that people forget that a talent is quite frankly $1000 worth of cash. (No alarm bells yet please.) Secondly there is the risk of the ordinary folk who aren’t great guitarists and have vocal chords like a strangled otter, who want to vomit when made to speak in public or can’t cook for a Connect Group without the fear of food poisoning everyone… these people might be tricked into thinking “I have no “talents” – what could I possibly contribute to The Kingdom?”

There are a lot of people in the Church who call themselves Pew Sitters who can’t stand the idea of hosting a Bible study because their carpet is cruddy or work unusual hours and simply don’t have the time to “contribute” to the workings of the local church… such people might be tempted to think the parable applies to someone else.

But if you’re his servant then it well and truly applies to you.

It is becoming clearer and clearer to me as I grow in the faith that the Kingdom is what should be occupying our thoughts on a close to constant basis. Everywhere Jesus went the first thing he said was usually “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.” This might be a controversial thing to say but the Kingdom is not to be mistaken for The Church, and please don’t lynch me. Jesus gave us the Keys to the Kingdom and the Church is the door, but on the other in eternity there won’t be a Church so to speak, there will just be the saved in the actualised Kingdom of Heaven for all eternity.

And eternity is a long time. Eternity without God is so horrible I don’t want to think of clever little allegories to show you just what a horrible thing it is. We were created to know God and the afterlife without him is an eternity of never living up to your intended purpose, never having the one relationship that could have quelled your loneliness and never fulfilling your complete potential. I think Hell would be like living on this earth in its current fallen state forever and ever and ever and never being able to break though to God while all around you is sadness and hate and fear. And that sucks.

So the Good News about the Kingdom is everything we should be focusing our talents and resources and dare I say a good portion of our money to.

So I come to this little group called The Bankers. The Servants who are spending their time witnessing, preaching, feeding the hungry, bringing medical aide to third worlders, entertaining strangers in their own homes, Pastoring churches full of people who need counselling, discipling, and their Pastors full attention which often comes at great expense to himself and sadly sometimes his family. These people are The Bankers.

Actual worldly Bankers are the ones who take your money and know how to invest it so that as you save your money earns interest that compounds so you can get that car quicker or that deposit for your first home.

Spiritual bankers are the ones who know where the harvest is, they seek lost souls and save them from the hungry jaws of Hell! They take your contribution and invest it so that you earn compound interest in Heaven – “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but store up for yourselves treasures in Heaven where moth and rust do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal”

Don’t write me off yet.

I have to confess that the idea of witnessing to someone I’ve never met freaks me out. I’m quite comfortable writing my little blogs or preaching (hiding behind) a pulpit but get me in a one on one situation and I usually wait until the other guy, usually a work colleague, says “So you’re a Christian huh?” And I strap on my seat belt and hold on for my life while I blunder through what I believe and walk away slapping my forehead while repenting for saying this or that thing when I should have said another thing. You don’t win souls that way. So I have a choice I could blunder through my life never winning a single person for Jesus and thus giving him the reward and expectation of eternal life or I could support the guy (the banker) who is good at evangelising and see just a fraction of my money going towards something of eternal significance, something that will shine forever and not a boat that could sink or a house that my kids will fight over when I die…

Now there are guys out there who are crooks, they will take your money gladly and spend it on themselves and this is where you need discernment. However it should not be your excuse for not contributing to the cause of The Kingdom. If these guys are thieves, wolves in sheep’s clothing, then it is your responsibility to find the chap who is a shepherd and support him for the long days and cold nights he spends protecting the Lord’s sheep. Your responsibility!

This is why I support my church and why I think you should support yours. The leaders should be dedicated to saving the lost and discipling the flock. If they aren’t, then go to a different church! But remember, your Pastor, the Christian organisations who feed the hungry in some country you’ve never heard of, the Salvation army, whatever or whoever they are, if they are committed to saving souls and equipping Christians with the Word then these people are those Bankers and if you aren’t investing the resources that God has given you into building the Kingdom then you are digging a hole in the ground when you could have been earning that interest in Heaven by entrusting it with the bankers who did know what to do with it.

“Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.”

1 comment:

  1. Wow, that's a good question... I'm afraid I'm not sure how to answer... You see once a blog is finished the order and complexity is really just an illusion, the reader never sees the disorganized horror of putting it together... I don't think I really clear my head, I think the writing itself is what clears my head, that and a lot of prayer. But just line anyone I procrastinate a lot. Last night for example I wrote a review and it took me over an hour just to open Word on my computer;) I think the key really is to persevere until it's finished! If you get distracted write down the things that disract you so you can come back to them later, but no matter what don't give up, when you get frustrated simply go back to the beginning and proof read what you've done and you should get caught in the flow again, If not do something else and come back, but make sure you do come back! Just don't give up...

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