Friday, November 13, 2015

The Boots and the Servant

Oh, the word Redeemed!  This is a word that is used so often to describe the event that takes place in the life of any person who chooses Christ.  It means to buy back.  The authority of God to redeem, or buy back the life of this person he created is rarely questioned by that individual.  But may I suggest that our status of redemption and the identity that comes with it is often assaulted by others? I think this can be adequately portayed in the following allegory.

A poor, pathetic, worn out pair of boots is thrown on the curb and makes its way into a flea market.  The owner of the market puts a very discounted price on it, and sets it out.  The boots are dirty, smell bad, and they have been in a lot of places that many people haven't ever gone.  They have been used by people that had the worst intentions for the boots.  They were torn, beaten up. Most people thought they had a good likelyhood of carrying a disease, too. They made people uncomfortable because they thought, if they wanted THOSE boots, you, know, they would really require a lot of attention, care, and repair.  And still even after that, well, they had this history, and who wants to be connected to that. It was too risky, I mean the boots might just fall apart when you least expect it.  After all, no one needs that kind of unreliability. Bottom line: these boots were just not suitable for polite society.  No wonder they were so cheap!  People reasoned that maybe some boots were just unsalvageable, and if ever any were, these were they.

One day a servant of a wealthy man came through the market and noticed the boots. He told his master about the boots, and the master came to see them. Tears filled his eyes when he saw what had happened to them.  He told the owner of the market that he wanted them.  Not only that, he wanted to pay the full price for the boots as if they were brand new.  He carefully picked them up, and brushed off the dirt and saw what he was looking for. Yes, these were the boots that he had made with his own hands so long ago.  He remembered with grief the day that someone had ripped them from his house, and how he had looked for them, and they were gone. With tears he recalled how much he loved those boots he had made, and how much he wanted them back no matter what.  They were special.  He had made many things, but these were one of a kind.  He had never made any other boots just like these, and there was no detail on them that he didn't place there on purpose. No wonder that wicked person wanted to steal them!  This wealthy man was so overjoyed to bring the boots back into his house.  Some of his servants rejoiced with him, too, the ones who knew the master's heart.  They were glad to see that the master of the house had them back, and had proudly displayed them in his mansion.  They even helped the master, as he toiled night and day to fix the damage that had been done to the boots when they were in the wrong hands. They often came by and oiled the scratches and rubbed out the rough places.  They could see the beauty of those boots coming through more and more each day.  The master had to rip off the sole and replace it.  That really hurt him to do, to see the boot so exposed like that, but there was dirt underneath that needed to be cleaned out.  The new sole was hard to get used to, and some of the other servants called the boots "phony." When the master heard people saying that, it made him cry.  They just didn't understand how much he loved those boots he had made.

Those other servants were not so happy to see those boots back in the house at all.  Especially one in particular.  This servant had left those boots on the porch one night, not bothering to bring them in, figuring they didn't really matter much anyway, and after all, he likelyhood anyone would take them was slim. This servant thought nothing about kicking the boots around even when they were in the house.  "They're just boots!" the servant thought.  "The master of this house has thousands of them!"  This unkind servant talked to other servants and some agreed with him that the boots really didn't matter that much, that when the master needed boots, he could certainly use another pair.

Day after day, the master toiled to restore the boots that he had purchased. The wicked group of servants decided that they had something to say.  They had seen enough of this work on a single pair of boots.  They decided to get together with as many of the other servants as possible, and tell them what REALLY HAPPENED with those boots. They got together in a group and began whispering about where those boots had been, and all the rotten things those boots had been exposed to, and all the filthy people who had touched them.  They talked about how "some damage is just permanent"  as if to imply that even the master who had made the boots couldn't fix everything. They discussed how "some things just have consequences" and surmised that it might even be WRONG to try to care for those boots.  More than anything, they just didn't want their hands dirty, and they had every right to feel this way. The servant who left the boots out, and the other servants who saw them out and did nothing about it, really felt guilty of how they had mishandled the goods of the master, and the boots coming back into the house were an awful reminder of that. But it was so much easier to get rid of the boots than to deal with what they had done. So they talked and talked about how horrible the boots were, talked about where they had been, and tried to make sure the other servants thought twice about caring for the boots or loving them. But all this did nothing to help the wicked servants feel any better about themselves, or the choices they had made. Even worse, the master overheard them saying one day, "The master ought to just throw those boots in the fireplace!" The master was furious with the servant and took his position and influence away. This infuriated the servant, and one day, he took a pocket knife and drove it into one of the boots and tore it badly. He spat on the boots and took out his aggression on them because of all the trouble and embarrassment those boots has caused him, all these years, hearing the master cry over the boots and halfheartedly helping the master look for the boots - even though the servant had spotted the boots occasionally, he never brought them home; he just gossiped about all the rotten places he had seen them. The master went about healing the damaged boots, grieving over the wicked servant who had injured them. He appointed special servants, who had loving and compassionate hearts, to watch over the boots until the damage was restored. The master knew it would take time. He also knew that he needed to make the boots stronger, to withstand any further mishandling. It hurt him to know that the damage that was done in his own house was worse that what had been done when the boots were lost.

If you know Jesus, you are his treasure.  Don't let any servants in the Master's house convince you otherwise.  You are redeemed, and Jesus paid full price for you.

 Be watchful of how you treat God's treasures.

 "If anyone destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him." I Cor.3:17