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Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

Enter in

Enter in

The invitation awaits us.

Colonial Williamsburg, for my wife and me, is a special place. There’s a peacefulness that speaks to us. A slowness to the pace. The uncluttered simplicity of the buildings and their interplay with nature – large, twisted trees throwing shadows on a white, wooden wall – appeals to my artistic eye.

But today, I’m honing my vision. I’m looking for open gates.

It’s not hard to find them. With so many narrow alleys between houses and backyard gardens lined with picket fences, gates are plentiful.

The parable of the “talents” inspires this search. It’s a well-known story. A master goes on a journey and entrusts money to three servants. While he’s away, they are expected to act on his behalf, using the money to bring a return on his investment. Two of them do, one does not.

What struck me recently is what he says to each of the two obedient servants:

His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ Matt. 25:23

Every believer I know longs to hear: “Well, done good and faithful servant.” I know I do. But I find that sought-after accolade often eclipses the following reward. But it’s that two-part benefit that intrigues me.

Simply put, the faithful servants get two things: more responsibility, and an entrance into the master’s joy. The two seem related to me. If we assume that Jesus is referring to himself as the master in this parable, let’s ask: what brings Jesus joy?

It is to see people caught up in his coming Kingdom -- in the words of Paul, “delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son.” (Col. 1:13) And as Jesus’s rule spreads, it brings order, wholeness, right relationships, and a host of other blessings.

This is what delights him. So, to be offered a greater role in the coming of such a kingdom is an invitation into his deep and abiding pleasure.

Robert Leighton (1611 – 1684), Scottish minister and scholar, makes the point that we enter the joy, not the other way around. As he explains:

'Tis but little we can receive, some drops of joy that enter into us, but there we shall enter into joy, as vessels put into a Sea of happiness.

I need this teaching. Sometimes I wonder why I don’t experience more joy in my faith. This helps me realize I’m not required to rachet up my joy. I’m to enter into his. And I do that by prioritizing the Kingdom, by caring for – in the words of the parable – the least of his followers.

Praying for them, encouraging them, blessing them. Wherever God connects us.

This is the work of the Kingdom. And the Kingdom is the entrance into the incredible abundance of the Master’s joy.

Jesus, we want what delights you to delight us. To enter into your joy – how it thrills our souls. Show us every day where the gates stand open.

Reader: when do you feel you have entered into the joy of the master?

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Bruce Van Patter

As a freelance illustrator, graphic recorder, and author, Bruce is on a lifelong journey to delight in the handiwork of the Creator. And he’s always ready for fellow travelers.

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