Bob and Weave

Musings of an impostor. Welcome to the masquerade.

Color or Black-And-White?

Posted by flyingbk on 03/28/2016

Well it’s been quite a while. I am trying once again to get back into the good habit of blogging.

We just finished the Lenten season in which my fellow pastor and I sent out devotionals to our church three times a week. Since this is a busy week for me (sermon prep), I will re-post two devotionals I wrote. First one today, next one Thursday. Then next week, let’s hope I’m disciplined and write at least twice a week!

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Matthew 18: The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant

21 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?”22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.

23 “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. 24 When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. 31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. 32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”
In v. 26 of this parable, the servant asks for patience so that he can repay a massive debt ($10 million is not an exaggeration). The master forgives and releases him. But please notice how the master does not forgive him because of anything the servant said. In fact, the servant still wanted to play by the bookkeeping rules; he just wanted a little gray in the midst of a firm black-and-white.

The master has none of it. He simply abolishes the rules. There’s no black-and-white; only blue skies, red and yellow flowers, green grass.

And yet, despite, the grace shown by the master, the servant still wants to play accountant. It’s easier, it’s less messy, there’s set boundaries. The servant is not comfortable with any non-monochromatic colors. So when he finds a fellow servant who owes him pennies, what naturally arises out of him is pure black-and-white, by-the-book, debits-and-credits. It is a joyless way to live. It’s like the servant never even took a minute to savor the kindness he received. Frankly, Jesus makes it clear: It’s a path to hell, the eternal prison.

When we read this parable, we get outraged at the servant’s actions. But like the servant, we fail to take time each day to savor the amazing grace and loving kindness of our Savior. And then we act like the servant, keeping books and score on every person we come across in our lives. And then we wonder why there’s joy lacking.

Here’s my main man Robert Farrar Capon again:
“None of our debts – none of our sins, none of our trespasses, none of our errors – will ever be an obstacle to the grace that raises the dead. At the most, they will be the measure of our death, and as soon as we die, they too will be dead, because our Lord the King has already died to them. But if we refuse to die – and in particular, if we insist on binding others’ debts upon them in the name of our own right to life – we will, by not letting grace have its way through us, cut ourselves off from ever knowing the joy of grace in us.” (from the amazing book Kingdom, Grace, and Judgment: Paradox, Outrage, and Vindication in the Parables of Jesus)

If there is anyone we refuse to forgive, we prove that we are still in that bookkeeping mentality. And it is a mentality that nullifies grace, and also means we’re playing with fire.

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