Let Us Fear Apathy More Than Failure

As beloved disciples of Jesus, wrapped in his righteousness and forever safe in his arms, let us abhor playing it safe, and instead let us swing for the fences. As disciples who love the King and his Kingdom, let us fear ministerial apathy more than ministerial failure. Let us invest wisely and boldly, and look forward to the smile of our Savior and Friend.


 

Jesus’ family knew about the many odd happenings surrounding his birth. They knew the story of magi who travelled from the East, bowed before the child and offered him tribute. His family also knew well of the former King Herod who had viewed him with suspicion as an up-and-coming rival. Throughout their growing-up years, there was always something special about Jesus. 

Jesus’ neighbors consistently heard people call him “Lord” and “Messiah.” In addition, as Jesus matured, they heard him consistently refer to himself as Son of Man. This became his favorite title and it was packed with Old Covenant royal relevance.

Jesus’ contemporaries witnessed his vast and varied miracles. And it did not take a rocket-scientist to read the Hebrew scriptures and see that incredible signs and wonders would accompany the Anointed One of God.

As of late, Kingdom-conversation was flying here and there. His friends were confident they heard him say, on numerous occasions, “The Kingdom of God is at hand.” In Jesus’ words, the Kingdom was sneaking up on men. It was growing. It could not be stopped, and it was “in their midst.” 

And now they see him, with unrelenting determination, marching towards the capital city of Jerusalem. The King was marching towards his Kingdom headquarters. Oh, could it be? Could it be that the promised regime shift was right around the corner?

Luke writes:

As they heard these things, he proceeded to tell a parable, because he was near to Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately.     (Luke 19:11)

The King of Kings, upon nearing the royal city of David, has something to say to his friends and foes. Here is of his final lessons:

He said therefore, “A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return. Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Engage in business until I come.’ But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.’ When he returned, having received the kingdom, he ordered these servants to whom he had given the money to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by doing business. The first came before him, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made ten minas more.’ And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.’ And the second came, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made five minas.’ And he said to him, ‘And you are to be over five cities.’ Then another came, saying, ‘Lord, here is your mina, which I kept laid away in a handkerchief; for I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man. You take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’ He said to him, ‘I will condemn you with your own words, you wicked servant! You knew that I was a severe man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? Why then did you not put my money in the bank, and at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’ And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina from him, and give it to the one who has the ten minas.’ And they said to him, ‘Lord, he has ten minas!’ ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me.’ ”     (Luke 12:12-27)

Jesus presents himself as a Nobleman with regal interests; he is passionate about his Kingdom and its expansion. Oh, sometimes he is present; at other times he is far away. However, whether at home or abroad, his Kingdom is always on his mind.

Jesus speaks of his citizens as laborers or ambassadors. As their Sovereign Head, his chief interest is always to be their chief interests. He has taught them to pray, “Thy Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven,” and with incredible zeal they are to labor towards this end. Therefore, to each of his citizens, he gives his assets to be invested, utilized, and multiplied for his purposes. The King’s disciples are to be fervently “engaged in his business until he comes.”

Jesus comments on that which he will see upon his return. When he returns to his Kingdom and reviews his ambassadors, he knows he will find two classes of people:

He will find those who love him, fear apathy, and fear not risk: They call him “Lord,” and they live like they mean it. They love the King and his Kingdom, and consequently they are bold and daring in their investments. They are anything but apathetic. To the contrary, they prove themselves to be divine entrepreneurs with a high tolerance for risk. They are the sort of disciples who would rather “go down swinging for the fence” than “playing it safe.” And in the end, though they have varying degrees of tangible success, all these men are commended by the King. From his mouth he declares them to be good and faithful servants who have done well. He delights in rewarding them with gracious gifts for what they have accomplished in his absence with his assets.

He will find those who hate him, fear him, take no risks, and are apathetic: These individuals also call him “Lord,” but inwardly they despise him. They see him not as loving, and they love him not. They see him as the “severe” one, and if they could find a way to be rid of his sovereignty they would do so. These men loathe the King and his Kingdom. Therefore, in his absence, they focus on their pleasure and passions, and they do nothing with his assets placed under their stewardship. They place it in a napkin and hide it in the ground. They do not even take the minimal effort required to deposit the King’s assets in a bank to gain the most modest of interest. And to these men, only words of condemnation are given. In the end, they lose it all and are called “wicked servants.” 


 

Friends, there should be no misunderstanding what Jesus is saying. He is not telling us we must perform adequately to keep eternal life and enjoy the Kingdom he is providing for us. That is the Covenant of Works, and it would lead to a death sentence for all of us. Why? There are none of us who love the Lord with all our being, and consistently steward all given to us by our Sovereign King. We are not those who faithfully, without ceasing, invest time, talent, energy, and finances as we ought. There are no righteous stewards, no not one. Once again, God’s good Law has put us in our place.

Thank God for the Gospel. Jesus is the only righteous steward who faithfully performed his Father’s bidding. We are secured, not because of our performance, but because of his. Only because of the righteousness of Christ do we stand before the Judge and hear him say, “Well done good servant; you have been faithful.”

However, let us not put away the good Law of Christ. That which Jesus commands is that which we desire as born-again disciples. That which we must do, which we cannot do, we want to do more and more as his Spirit moves in our hearts and minds. So, what’s the big idea? What is our take-away for the day?

As beloved disciples of Jesus, wrapped in his righteousness and forever safe in his arms, let us abhor playing it safe, and instead let us swing for the fences. As disciples who love the King and his Kingdom, let us fear ministerial apathy more than ministerial failure. Let us invest wisely and boldly, and look forward to the smile of our Savior and Friend.

Let’s take chances my friends, for we really cannot fail. Without his blessing, any good spiritual accomplishments are impossible. With his blessing, all good spiritual accomplishments are possible. Therefore, in regards to the Kingdom, we will only be successful as he labors through us, and oh how he enjoys laboring through us. So, get on your knees right now, realign your heart and mind, commune with the Holy Spirit in the Holy Word, and get up off your knees bold, daring, radical, shrewd, and inventive. Let us fear apathy more than failure and be zealous, Kingdom-minded, spiritual entrepreneurs. Today, let us:

  • Sing boldly — Give praise to your Redeemer and long to pay your vows
  • Repent boldly — Ask God to change your passions and priorities
  • Supplicate boldly — Ask God for specific blessings and opportunities
  • Profit boldly — Pursue your business goals with great ambition. For in order for you to have assets to utilize, the Sovereign Lord must first place them in your hands
  • Spend boldly — Look for ways to give away his assets, time, energy, skills, talents, and gifts which he has put in your charge
  • Church boldly — Let apathy be gone. Be done with the country club mindset. Be missional. Be missionaries in your city, and ask the Lord for wisdom in being such
  • Speak boldly — Look for someone with whom you might share the Gospel, and then let it rip. Listen well. Present it with love and compassion. Take them as far as they will willingly go. Know that you do not have to “close the deal.” But be bold, be vocal … go ahead and take a chance. Fear apathy more than you do failure.

 


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