“Jesus is coming: Look busy!”
Do you remember that bumper sticker? This parable has a tendency to make us feel like that’s what we’re supposed to be doing.
If this is a story about stocking up, taking care of business and being prepared, it can lead us into the unsavory, and unreformed predicament of works righteousness. Before you know it, “Jesus is coming! Look busy” has taken us on a journey in which we are the authors of our salvation, based on how good, productive, profitable and well-prepared we have been in our lifetime.
We know that’s not where the good news of Jesus is intended to take us.
I think Jesus is urging us to say every day and hour of the journey, “Fill me up and check my oil.”
Some of us are old enough to remember the glorious days when you could pull into a gas station, roll down your window and say just that to an attendant, “Fill me up and check my oil.” You had to take some initiative, of course, and pull into the bay. But once there, the maintenance of your vehicle was taken care of. You got what you needed. You were ensured that you were good to go. You could carry on with your journey.
To understand the parable, we need to understand the kind of oil Jesus is talking about.
It is not something that can be traded back and forth – like lamps or bridesmaid dresses. Jesus is all about sharing and giving yet he doesn’t recommend it here. It isn’t something that is intended to keep you busy all the time. All of the bridesmaids – wise and foolish – fall asleep. It isn’t something you can pick up at the last minute. If you try, it is possible that you won’t have it when you need it.
In the parable, the oil represents the spiritual resources of faith – confidence in the abundant promises of God, peace that passes understanding a depth of hope that can sustain us through disappointments and grief, a knowledge of the blessing we have received to live a life of purpose, joy in the presence of a living Savior who has called us to bring and to be light to the world.
We all know what running spiritually dry looks like.
It’s when someone asks you a perfectly reasonable question and you jump down their throat because they ought to know the answer. It’s when you can’t remember the last time you told someone you loved them while looking into their eyes. It’s when you have a lineup of appointments and tasks that take care of your living, but you don’t feel like you have a life.
It’s when you think about the end of your life or the end of time and your first response is “Have I done enough” not “Jesus has given me enough”. When it feels as if you are waiting for judgment and not the party that is promised.
Get over to Jesus every day and let him offer you his abundant grace, direction, blessing, and hope.
Pray with him. Turn your worries over to him.
Take his light yoke upon you to be relieved of your burdens.
Let him call you into a community where there is celebration and support.
He will usher you into worship where we are restored by giving glory to our maker.
He is always with us and we serve him when we serve the least and the lost.
Quit trying to take care of your life all by yourself – with your pension fund or your long-range plans or your good intentions. Trying to be self-serve in the kingdom of God just never works our right.
Pull in. Get up close to Jesus. Tell him what you need. He will make sure you are filled with the oil that will let you shine as the light of the world. We can face any calamity, any hour, any day. We will be prepared for the party that is to come.
Wises one come to him and we are filled.