I hate poker. I think I’m beginning to understand why. Frankly, when I play any kind of game that includes bidding, betting, and luck, I’m not going to be overly ecstatic. I don’t want to be too risky. I can’t stand the fact of losing all I have. I don’t enjoy adrenaline rushes. I am frugal, and I don’t want to waste any of what I started out with. As I type this, a lightning bolt hits pretty close to my heart.
A parable of talents… investing… thrown out… these phrases ricochet through my brain and force me to take another look at the story that Jesus told in Matthew 25. Let’s do a little modern retelling of this fictitiously symbolic tale.
At school, each year teachers in my district get an “allowance” per se, an annual budget that you can spend on buying supplies for the classroom. (Now, I’ll say up front that this analogy does not really work in real life, but for the purposes of this blog, it works mighty well.)
So, this year, teacher 1 plans his budget. He is going to use his money to buy two video cameras for his classroom so that students can record themselves in reader’s theater, in vocabulary skits, in parent updates, and so on. Great use! It will engage students in the learning process by using technology. Go teacher 1.
Teacher 2 buys science materials, birthday gifts for her students, and reward prizes with the money she is allotted. Not bad. Still motivating children.
Teacher 3 decides to save the money so that it can be reabsorbed into the school’s budget. She doesn’t feel like anything is necessary to buy, so she just doesn’t do anything at all with the money.
Which teacher is the noble hero in this story? In today’s real life school, probably teacher 3. But spiritually speaking, would it not be the teachers who used their money for the betterment of their students? An investment was made there. Both teacher 1 and 2 purchased items that a.) aid in student learning and b.) they themselves probably enjoyed, while teacher 3 is going to have work a lot harder to motivate and engage kids with the nothing that she bought. Let’s face it: kids like expensive things, and they sure as heck love candy and prizes. They are seriously motivated to learn and behave by incentives. Some days I question whether they would learn anything at all without these. Just kidding. But seriously. It makes the job easier and it’s downright effective.
For the record, I always spend all my allowance every year at my job. But in spiritual terms, the 3rd teacher may more often than not be me. I think my “poker face” as previously mentioned can sometimes show itself on the inside of me too. I’m not throwing in all my chips when it comes to the work of Jesus. Luckily, I don’t feel like I hoard all my chips, but I’m not altogether confident that my chips won’t be wasted when I do bid.
I read this today:
“Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort.” -1 Corinthians 15: 58b [MSG]
This says it all and sums up the bolt I was struck with this morning. This is an imperative thought here, as in Paul is giving a command to the Corinthian believers to give it all, throw it all in, don’t even worry about how much you’re wagering for Christ, because Christ isn’t a waste of time. Bid your chips good-bye, and welcome in the work of the Master.
I need to take this direction in my own life in regards to time. Don’t keep all my time for myself. Give it away. Spend time with needy people. Spend time talking with others about spiritual matters. Get outside my circle of influence and bebop into someone else’s for a change. Just walk across the room. Meet someone new. Take opportunities to share my story with those who haven’t heard.
Can I be that kind of person? It’s difficult to think about something so second nature to me (staying safe in my bubble) being radically transformed into something of worth and excellence from God’s point of view (reaching out to others who need JC). But I guess that’s the beauty of it. Once I throw in all my chips and give up my equilibrium lifestyle, I can see the metamorphosis happening in my own life as well as those around me. God’s turbulence will be ever so frightening. However, that is how effectiveness is bred. No longer should I be comfortable, but I should be confident that Christ is being shared and lives are being changed because of my obedience.
God help me.