The real estate market has gone crazy in the Outer Banks. The inventory of houses for sale is so low that people are able to sell their houses pretty much “as is” for a significantly higher price than a year ago. My daughter is trying to find a house in Florida and had an appointment to see a house thirty minutes after it hit the MLS. Her realtor called to cancel the appointment an hour later. It was sold to a family who made a full price offer sight unseen two hours after it was listed.

If you’ve ever been a renter, a prospective homeowner, or a landlord, you know how volatile the whole situation can be. I have been all three and my least favorite role is as the landlord. It is always a scary situation to put your home in the hands of someone else. You just pray for tenants who will respect your property. Entrusting your asset to a stranger is hard to do.

Jesus once told a story about the tension between a land owner and his renters. It does not go well.

Matthew 21 (Contemporary English Version)

33 Jesus told the chief priests and leaders to listen to this story:

A land owner once planted a vineyard. He built a wall around it and dug a pit to crush the grapes in. He also built a lookout tower. Then he rented out his vineyard and left the country.

34 When it was harvest time, the owner sent some servants to get his share of the grapes. 35 But the renters grabbed those servants. They beat up one, killed one, and stoned one of them to death. 36 He then sent more servants than he did the first time. But the renters treated them in the same way.

37 Finally, the owner sent his own son to the renters, because he thought they would respect him. 38 But when they saw the man’s son, they said, “Someday he will own the vineyard. Let’s kill him! Then we can have it all for ourselves.” 39 So they grabbed him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him.

40 Jesus asked, “When the owner of that vineyard comes, what do you suppose he will do to those renters?”

If you are beginning to recognize this parable as an allegory about Jesus and the way he was treated by the people to whom he was sent, you are on the right track. Remember it starts with “Jesus told the chief priests and leaders to listen to this story.”

41 The chief priests and leaders answered, “He will kill them in some horrible way. Then he will rent out his vineyard to people who will give him his share of grapes at harvest time.”

42 Jesus replied, “You surely know that the Scriptures say,

‘The stone that the builders
    tossed aside
is now the most important
    stone of all.
This is something
the Lord has done,
    and it is amazing to us.’

It was foretold that the rejection of Jesus would lead to the inclusivity of all nations. It was part of God’s plan for the redemption of the world…but that still didn’t let them off the hook.

43 I tell you that God’s kingdom will be taken from you and given to people who will do what he demands. 44 Anyone who stumbles over this stone will be crushed, and anyone it falls on will be smashed to pieces.”

Harsh words indeed for those who had only been renting the Kingdom anyway. But in that regard, we are all just renting. The challenge for us then is to respect all that we have been entrusted with as though it was our own. Every resource we have is a gift of God.

Jesus reminds us that he has promised us a room in a mansion in heaven that he has gone ahead to prepare. Until then, take great care of all that has been entrusted to you on earth.

Entrusted by Becca Ziegler

Leveling the Playing Field

It is always a shock when we learn that someone we have held in high esteem has committed a crime or egregious sin and has fallen from the pedestal we had put them on. I recently watched a movie that told the story of the head of a very popular news organization and how he fell from his high tower of power when his sexual exploitation of several female employees was revealed. It was an eye-opener.

Perhaps that says more about our tendency to erect pedestals than anything else. Society has a way of creating a hierarchy built on power, wealth, and social status. Sin has a way of knocking all of that down. The only safe pedestal to perch upon is the word of God.

In the twenty-first chapter of Matthew, Jesus had a conversation with the chief priests and elders of the people. They were at the top of the food chain in Israel and loved to flaunt their status. They had the audacity to question Jesus about his authority, as if their self-assigned societal authority gave them the right to question the Son of God.

As if!

See how handily Jesus knocks them off their man-made pedestals:

Matthew 21 (Common English Bible)

28 “What do you think? A man had two sons. Now he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’

29 “‘No, I don’t want to,’ he replied. But later he changed his mind and went.

30 “The father said the same thing to the other son, who replied, ‘Yes, sir.’ But he didn’t go.

31 “Which one of these two did his father’s will?”

They said, “The first one.”

Jesus said to them, “I assure you that tax collectors and prostitutes are entering God’s kingdom ahead of you. 32 For John came to you on the righteous road, and you didn’t believe him. But tax collectors and prostitutes believed him. Yet even after you saw this, you didn’t change your hearts and lives and you didn’t believe him.

Whoa, Nellie. That was a deep cut. The prostitutes and the TAX COLLECTORS? Surely that rankled the chief priests. Jesus effectively mopped the floor with their over-blown pretensions and their misunderstanding of “greatness.”

To be the first, one must commit to being the last. To enter the kingdom of God, one must be humble. Securing eternal life requires changing our hearts, minds, and LIVES. Walking God’s righteous road is the way.

Look at the pedestal you are currently standing on. If you see privilege, position, wealth, status, or arrogance there, jump off and save yourself.

Walking The Righteous Path by Kathy Schumacher