Thursday, February 5, 2009

Gel, efendinin senliğine katıl ! (Mat. 25)

This is a very frightening chapter to read, if you are "between jobs" and living on government largess in the form of "unemployment insurance." It starts with the parable of the ten virgins (On kız benzetmesi) going to a party.
Bunların beşi akılsız, beşi de akıllıymış.
The words:
  • Bunların -- of these
  • beş -- five
  • akıl -- mind, intelligence, wit
  • akılsız -- foolish (lacking the above)
  • akıllı -- wise (possessing the above)
  • mış -- narrative / dubitative tense indicator
The problem with effortless subsistence living is -- you can get comfortable there. The "assistance" cripples drive and initiative. As Rush Limbaugh mentioned once, sparrows raised in captivity have brains about 30% smaller than wild sparrows. The African immigrants to our country had something that the Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Jewish, Ukrainian, etc. immigrants lacked -- assured room and board. As a wise old Lutheran pastor and former associate of Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said, "The natural condition of mankind is slavery. This is what people yearn for and seek above all else. A slave, after all, is domestic cattle, who needs to be housed and fed." Haagen Staack, a buy who'd seen the Nazi regime up close and personal in the course of smuggling 126 Jews out of Germany, achieved this insight while pastoring a blue-collar union-dominated town in Pennsylvania.

It takes very little effort to subsist, to let "the village" take care of you. African tribesmen who anticipate a good crop will often go out at night and destroy part of their own fields, lest their prosperity triggers accusations of witchcraft. They can meet their goals of subsistence during good times, but starve when bad times come.

In our Lord's grim little cautionary tale, the foolish virgins did nothing more than what the moment apparently required. They contacted their two possible employers per week. Then, when the long-awaited, longed-for opportunity happened, they were caught with their britches down.[1] They did not have the surplus resources needed for the moment. They had failed to use their time, their opportunities, wisely. The expression "high leisure preference" is the modern euphemism for the older word "lazy."

The bottom line is, if we are not OVER-prepared, we will not be ready for our opportunities. When Arturo Toscanini aspired to become a great conductor, he memorized orchestral scores. When his opportunity finally came to substitute for the regular conductor, he strode to the podium, closed the score, and conducted the symphony from memory.

Folks, it is scary when you recall that God does, indeed, answer prayers and give us the opportunities we cry out for. Bungle a few of those by neglecting current opportunities, and this parable resounds "like a firebell in the night."

And the second parable is like unto it. A rich man entrusts his assets to several managers. Takes a business trip. Comes back to see what they've achieved. The winners are praised. The loser, however, is the guy who tried to coast, to mark time, to merely subsist. He never got to hear the glad words addressed to his peers,
Gel, efendinin senliğine katıl!
Come, of your Master's joy, enter in!

And what is our Master's joy, that we are called to participate in? I suspect, it is the joy of creative productivity. The Bible presents a God who works, who rejoices in His work and His works, and who invites us to become, like Him, productive.

May we have the grace and character to do so.


[1] Little American cowboy metaphor. When the hired gun comes looking for you, you really don't want to be caught "doing your business" in the outhouse!

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