The life of a Christian is not supposed to be spent haphazardly. That is, the Christian does not perform random acts hoping that the act that he has taken is a proper act. So if a Christian does not act randomly, then there must be a guideline, or standard by which he can evaluate an action and thus know what to do or what direction to take in a specific situation. Likewise, Christians should not be working arbitrarily, thinking they must merely perform here on earth; rather, there must be some sort of purpose for their life, some goal toward which they are workingÜ and this goal and purpose should be the same on a broad level for all Christians. If asked what exactly the standards or rules are, or their purpose and goal, most Christians would refer the inquirer to the Holy Bible. The inquirer will be successful in finding what the goal is, but if the inquirer is looking for a list of rules on what and what not a Christian is allowed to, how a Christian should work toward the goal, and what a Christian is supposed to do in certain situations, he will not find it.
He will not find it because it is not there. Jesus did not ever say do not smoke or that night clubs and pubs are evil or no drugs. He did not give the Christian a new set of Ten Commandments – rather, He gave him a commandment of love, and he often gives him an understanding of this love through the use of parablesÜ a type of story from which a person can draw a moral message and act accordingly. A Christian does have the gift of the Holy Spirit that aids him in knowing how to act, but this does not undermine that he has the written Word of God from the Logos Himself. A Christian does not live the Law of the Letter, but the Law of Love. By examination of some of Christs parables, hopefully we can come to a better understanding of the nature of Christianity in terms of it being a calling, how difficult it is, and how it must mean and reflect love.
1. Christianity is a calling and a duty.
But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat? And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink? Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not. So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do. (Luke 17:7-10)
In this parable, it is evident that being a Christian is not just a way of life, but a duty. The person is called to perform a role, and when he has completed the task laid before him, he then enjoys its fruits. Because it is a duty, the Christian should never see himself as superior to others, he should see himself as unprofitableÜ but with the potential for good if his Master uses him. Drawing from this parable, it becomes clear that it is illogical for any servant or worker to think that he is greater than his master or employer, if he was, the employer would not be the one to hire him, rather the employer would be hired by him. So it is with the Christian, he is not greater than His Lord, and as such, he should appreciate that he has been hired, or called. once he understands that, he then can appreciate what the Master has done for him, For many be called, but few chosen (Matthew 20:16) and from that he can begin a loving relationship, which will dictate how he is supposed to act.
2. Trusting Gods Word is wise, means difficult work, and requires honesty.
Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it. (Matthew 7:24-27)
Just as a student in a laboratory cannot carry out a lab safely and properly without the instructions of the laboratory coordinator, neither can the Christian live properly without the instructions of his God. Here the Lord says that a Christian can try and might even appear to have been successful (in building the house) on his own, but the end is ruin; like the house, he falls down. He falls because his foundation was not solid, he did not have the firm basis that would allow him to withstand trials and tribulation. A house that cannot face the mere challenges of nature is no house at all, for it is impossible for a house to physically exist without having to face some sort of physical pressure. Christ tells us that He Himself will call us wise for hearing His words. If a person does not think Christ is the correct teacher, the proper one to refer to for instructions, or as the proper foundation, then that person is foolish, and he will have to suffer the consequencesÜ his house will fall.
The laboratory for the Christian is the entire world. The Christian is first called, and then he must work. The hours are long, and the work laborious, but the Lord recognizes the challenge of this, Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (Matthew 7:14) It may seem impossible, but He gives us the solution with another parable, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest. (Matthew 9:37-38) It is worth recognizing that the harvest belongs to the Lord, not to the worker. It is merely the workers job to be honest with the Master, to take what the Master has given to him and use it to serve him. It is not the servants job to make a bigger harvest or change the harvest (unless the Master tells him to). It is only his job to work the harvest, and to bring forth fruit. The fruit will still belong to the master, but that does not mean that the servant cannot enjoy them. The Lord explains the nature of this stewardship and honesty in service in the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30).
In this parable, the Lord says explicitly that He handed out talents to the workers. All of the workers that used their given talents properly and to bring forth more fruit were smiled upon by God and were given greater stewardshipÜ a promotion, so to speak. To the worker who was dishonest with the money, the Lord condemned to the bitter darkness, and emphasized to him before all, that what he had been given belonged to the Master, I should have received mine own with usury (Matthew 25:27)
The Christians job, therefore, is to do the work that God has put for him, For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work. (Mark 13:34)
3. The Christian cannot forget that he must reflect Gods image: love.
In order to reflect Gods love, a Christian has to see that God actually is love. A mirror cannot reflect the suns rays unless it is pointed at the sun. Likewise, a Christian cannot show Gods love to others unless he is continuously pointed at Him. God gives unlimitedly (the sun keeps shining), and it is our job to receive that love and reflect it out at others (the mirror to shine on others has to be directed at the sun and others at the same time). At the same time, the mirror will not reflect the sun unless the suns rays are hitting it. Clearly, love requires two.
In this love relationship, God never fails. It is within human capacity to fail, however, and often the Christian does. It is in these situations that the Christian sees Gods love more clearlyÜ a love that is given even if not returned. This is demonstrated in the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32). In this parable, it becomes clear that a person can feel the temptation to completely reject their employer. The worker goes through a type of phase that can be initiated by anything from worry to boredom, and decides to quit. Now, the worker forgets that it is not the employer that really has need for the workerÜ he will live with one less workerÜ but that the worker has need of work. If the worker leaves and demonstrates that he has absolutely no desire to return to his job, then there is no reason for the employer to ever hire him again. It is here that the Christian sees Christs love in the parable. The son has not only demonstrated that he has no desire to be with his father, but he even goes so far as to ask for his inheritance as well. In a way, the son is telling his father that the only benefit to being with him is the material things that the son could take from him. By taking his inheritance, he has implicitly stated that his fathers life or death is of no importance to him. He has chosen for his father to die.
Though he has chosen that, it must not be forgotten that he is merely the worker. If a worker leaves the plant, the plant does not stop running. Or, if someone chooses not to believe in rain, it does not mean that rain will cease to fallÜ the worker has no authority over such things. The damage, then, is in the love relationship: the worker decides to terminate a relationship when he chooses to leave, the son shows he does not love his father when he chose to reject him. Love is useless, when not reflected in actions. It is none other than the father, God, who shows this, for when his son finally came to himself and understood the benefits of being with his father, when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. (Luke 15:20) No greater love can be expressed, then when one has no need or reason to love another, to love another who has completely rejected him and shown all but love, and still love. When this love is seen, it must be reflected. Christ showed this love so that the Christian could show it to others.
This is shown through the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37), in which two equals (not a servant and a master) show a similar type of love, an enemy tends to and cares for an enemy, and in so doing tears down the barrier between them. A Christian, then, must follow Christs instruction, As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. (John 15:9)
Christ uses parables to teach the Christian the nature of his calling, his duty as a servant, the necessity of works, and the path of love. That road is not easy if travelling alone, but that is why the Christian is comforted for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. (Hebrews 13:5) The calling is difficult, the Christian will meet trials, but he is called to servitude and to submission, but a submission of love from a person in need to the one who has no needs; from someone in need of loveÜ to Love Himself.