May 312014

Our eighth child just graduated from high school. It was a time of celebration. Family came from out of town to support and encourage him. We held an open house for friends to drop by and congratulate our son. The weekend of the events at the high school and our house flew by quickly, and our son—now a man—is getting ready to go to college. To guests (especially those who haven’t had a child graduate) the whole affair seemed pretty simple: watching a ceremony at the school and lunch with punch at the house. However, behind the scenes a lot of preparation went into graduation weekend.

In the months leading up to graduation, senior pictures, caps and gowns, and invitations had to be ordered. The last few weeks of the school year were filled with programs to attend, like band and choir concerts, the senior breakfast, and graduation rehearsal. Here at home we had to get ready to receive company. We had to make sure there were enough groceries for extended family that would be staying for days. We needed food and beverage for the open house. Besides cleaning and scrubbing, dusting, sweeping, mopping, and mowing the lawn, there was decorating and setting up extra chairs. We wanted people to feel comfortable and welcome in our home, and we wanted our son to be able to rejoice in his accomplishment without having to worry about all the details. After all, he put 12 years of effort into his education; now it was time for him to take a short breather before stepping into the next level of life responsibility.

As I consider our recent experience with our son, I’m reminded of the parable of the unrighteous steward in Luke 16. It was reported to a wealthy business owner that the manager he employed was squandering his money, so he called the man in to give an accounting, telling him that he was going to lose his job. The manager was alarmed. He was too old for manual labor and too proud to go begging, and became extremely concerned about how he was going to earn a living. He quickly went to all the people who owed his boss commodities and told them to write out a bill of payment for half the amount they owed. Thus by doing them this favor, the manager was ingratiating himself so that when he lost his job he would have connections in the job market. His boss actually applauded him for his quick thinking and shrewdness. After telling this parable to his disciples, Jesus commented that people of the world, in secular endeavors, were much wiser than “the children of light” (the redeemed; those who know God).

In our own lives we take great care to attend to our secular responsibilities and cultural traditions, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But do we take the same care and concern over spiritual matters by attending to Kingdom business? Are we walking the walk or just giving lip service to God? Do we sweep out bad habits and mop up our mistakes? Do we dust the cobwebs of impure thoughts from our minds? Do we make a conscious effort to scrub our hands clean of wrongdoing? Are we making sure we have spiritual nourishment? Do we “set out extra chairs” to invite others into our hearts, making them feel like welcome guests in our lives?

One day there will be a great celebration and time of rejoicing for those who have been redeemed from death and hell, and while we don’t earn our redemption by working for it, there is still much preparation to be engaged in. We prepare our hearts and minds through trusting (faith), prayer, study, and living godly lives. Jesus made disciples, not converts. A disciple imitated the walk of his master. If we desire to imitate Jesus, we would do well to love the Lord our God with all our heart, all our soul, and all our mind foremost; and secondly to love our neighbor as ourselves. Then we will have great reason to rejoice indeed when we enter into His presence!

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