“To whom much is given, much will be expected” (Luke 12:48).
Ephesians 3:2-12; Luke 12:39-48
Jesus continues his instruction to his disciples about being prepared. The more they know, the more they will be held accountable. The more authority they have been given, the greater the burden to carry it out. Luke applies these warnings to his church a generation later, and the lessons have come down to us today. In fact, we know so much and have been given so much, we are even more accountable than those first believers.
Modern communication technology confronts us with the great suffering occurring in our world. The “big picture” shows us the effects of our lifestyles on the deteriorating state of the environment. We see how global financial systems keep creating a very unequal world. We may feel locked into institutions we cannot change. Sometimes we may wish we were not as informed as we are and even be tempted to stop exposing ourselves to the news. Change the channel, create your own happier newsfeed, escape into entertainment or other diversions.
Jesus proposes neither floating anxiety nor denial, but he tells the servants in his parables to fulfill the duties of caring for one another in community. The leader who grows lax, begins to abuse others or withdraws into drunkenness will be held accountable. Those who remain faithful will be given greater tasks. Luke gives us a possible window into the early church when he describes pastors who fail to serve their communities The image of severe or less severe beatings for negligence may describe normal discipline in the ancient world, which still sanctioned servitude, but he gets his message across vividly.
The message for us is to stay alert and fulfill our assigned roles, big or small. We never know when we may have to give an accounting, and our lives can be disrupted at any time, so be prepared. Jesus tells Peter, the leader of the church, to be that faithful and prudent servant the master has put in charge of his household.
A wise counselor once proposed three areas that reasonably defined my hope to live productively and responsibly. Do what you have to do, what you have promised to do, and, to the extent that you can, what you are asked to do. Then get a good night’s sleep and take care of yourself so you will be available to respond when the need arises.