Have you ever come across one of those passages that makes you think 'what does that mean?'. I had one of those moments recently when I was looking at Luke 12vv35-48, and in particular vv41-48:
41Peter said, "Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for all?" 42And the Lord said, "Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? 43Blessed is that servant[i] whom his master will find so doing when he comes. 44Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. 45But if that servant says to himself, 'My master is delayed in coming,' and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, 46the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and put him with the unfaithful. 47And that servant who knew his master's will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. 48But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.
Peter's asked his question in v41 about who the parable is for, and seemingly from the rest of the verse the parable is for servants of the master; for the disciples, for Christian people. And it's great to know that when Jesus comes again, those who are found ready, found properly looking after the other servants will be blessed. But what about those who are doing wrong? Jesus has some tough things to say to three different types of people who would call themselves Christians.
Firstly, those who delude themselves that the master isn't coming back and exploit the servants under them will be cut to pieces and put out with the unfaithful. Now I can kind of see that. People who take advantage of Christians and exploit them for their own ends won't get away with it. They will be shown at the end for what they are.
It's the next two I struggle with though. There will be some who deliberately did what Jesus didn't want and will receive a hefty beating. And there will be some who didn't know and will receive a light beating. Now I can't away from the fact that these people are servants of the master, who are being punished, so what do I do with it?
And I think it begs a bigger question. If I'm speaking on this in church, what do I do with it. I guess when I was thinking some of this through with others, it just made me realise the difference between teaching the bible and teaching the bible to people.
You see, teaching the bible to people isn't just a theoretical exercise. It's something that can and does profoundly affect people's lives for better or worse. It really makes a difference, and therefore I need to teach it rightly. God works by his Spirit, and I'm sure He helps people remeber the bits they need to hear, and forget bits that aren't right, but if I stood in front of people and told them they were in line for a beating from Jesus when they weren't it would affect people. And it could really damage some people's faith.
So then, what do you do when you just don't know and getting it wrong is a big deal? Well, I'd love to know what you'd do. I guess for me, rightly or wrongly, I'd admit to people that I didn't know and dind't want to teach them wrongly. And then I'd trust in God's grace.