‘Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
‘Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks. Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes; truly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them. If he comes during the middle of the night, or near dawn, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.
‘But know this: if the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.’ (NRSV).
It is quite a thought to take in: God takes pleasure in entrusting the kingdom to us.
We know from experience that giving the keys of heaven to us may not be the wisest of all possible moves. We fumble kingdom opportunities; stumble when the stakes are highest; hesitate when boldness is imperative.
But these words are not spoken to bring about fear. In fact Jesus’ opening words affirm that they are offered specifically to inspire the change that genuine faith brings.
Jesus opens his mouth in order to banish the faith-crushing effect of fear. His words offer courage.
And this is no ordinary courage. It is a boldness that causes one to live in a new way. Possessions no longer master. Their demand is countered by the boldness of a generous heart.
It is a simple equation: failing treasures are replaced with ones that endure.
As is often the case, Jesus goes further that we initially imagine. His words: ‘…where your treasure is, there will your heart be also’ contain an invitation to build and store where the heart is safe. It would seem that the things pursued by the world not an appropriate place for the human heart to dwell.
Jesus is contrasting things stolen and rusted with things that are safe. Building and storing anything and anywhere other than the kingdom of heaven is un-safe.
Our attention to heaven is something like being ‘dressed for action and having your lamps lit’. It points to servants who are ready and expectant. They wait to welcome their master. They are alert to their lord’s return.
And the reward is extraordinary.
After coming home, this lord takes on the role and garb of – of all things – one of his servants. Yes, he is so pleased with their attentive obedience that he begins to serve them. To say the least, it is an unexpected role reversal amounting to nothing less than abundantly ‘blessed slaves’.
It all amounts to a a call to be ready and to avoid distraction – for the ‘Son of Man is coming’. His return will be as unexpected as a thief in the night – and as preventable.
All that is needed to foil this plan is readiness. And this kingdom readiness begins with the simple and safe act of investing in those things that matter.
It may be hard to grasp, but Jesus is asking us – and insisting that it is possible – to ‘make purses…that do not wear out’.
It is quite an offer. We are all too familiar with the uncertainty of the treasures of earth. Here is an invitation to discover the treasure of heaven.
This heavenly treasure is quite different to that which we know. It is safe. It does not know rust or theft. It is enduring.
In short, the kingdom of God is worthy of our whole hearts.
Who would invest elsewhere?