"But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more." - Luke 12:48 (ESV)
My mother included this verse on a letter she gave to me in the weeks leading up to my high school graduation. The words gave me goosebumps.
But those words never impacted me quite like they did the summer after my freshman year of college.
That summer, I was blessed to be a part of a Summer Study Abroad trip to Turkey. I admit that a big influence in my participation in this trip was the fact that it was being led by my favorite professor and his wife. Also, I had always had a sort of "wanderlust" and figured that I might as well seize the opportunity to travel.
But going on that trip turned out to be much more than "traveling". That trip changed my life.
Turkey is a Muslim country, and we spent a lot of our time there learning about Islam, talking with imams (Muslim priests), and staying with Muslim host families. Coming face to face with a different religion (and one that had not been portrayed so nicely in the American media) was a lot to take in. Talking to Muslims about their faith was eye-opening, convicting, humbling, and, most of all, heartbreaking.
During my trip, I was very angry with God. My host family had displayed love and hospitality unlike I'd ever seen from any Christian, and I wondered how God could have the nerve to send these people to hell. I was angry because life didn't seem fair. It didn't seem fair that these people were born in a Muslim country with basically no choice but to be Muslim, while I enjoyed religious liberties and easily-accessible Christianity in my life in America. It didn't seem fair that these people, with servant hearts so full of love, kindness, and hospitality, were eternally damned, while the seemingly half-hearted, self-serving Christians back home (including myself!) would enjoy an eternity with Jesus simply by "asking Him into their heart."
I felt like I was winning some sort of sick, twisted lottery.
But, one day, as I was tearfully watching my sweet host grandmother say her daily namaz (prayers) in her unhindered devotion to Allah, God hit me with something:
"I love her, Katie. I love her. I love her. I love her."
My eyes fill with tears as I recall this moment. God's love was so powerful in that moment; so present, so real. The words of John 3:16 echoed in my mind as I was reminded that "God so loved the WORLD."
Though she think of him only as a highly respected prophet, Jesus died for my host grandmother. He died for my host family. He died for the people of Cappadocia, the people of Turkey, the people of Islam, and of Hinduism, and of Buddhism, and of Judaism, and of Sikhism, and of Wicca; for the people of all religious (and nonreligious) groups, everywhere. And He desperately desires each individual to come to know Him.
Here I was, furious that God would just send these people to hell, when the words of Luke 12:48 came to mind.
"To whom much was given, much will be required."
And I realized I have truly been given much, and not just in terms of material wealth or education. I have been given the privilege of being born into a Christian family and in a nation where it is so easy for me to come to know Jesus. I have been entrusted with the Christian faith. I have been given grace. I have been given forgiveness. I have been given unconditional love. I have been given Jesus.
And, because of that, much will be required of me.
I will be required to give of my money and my time and my life. With the power of the Holy Spirit, I will be required to love people radically and serve people selflessly. With the power of the Holy Spirit, I will be required to show others Jesus - in word and in action. I will be required to "go and make disciples of all nations."
And that is exactly what I want to do, knowing that this is not my life, but God's; it is not my work, but the Holy Spirit's.
I am blessed to have the opportunity to go on a Summer of Service through Northwestern College this summer. For 8 weeks, I will be in Chiang Mai, Thailand via the missions organization Pioneers, teaching English, doing relational ministry, and loving people. I am so excited to see what God will teach me on this trip.
And, with the power of the Holy Spirit, I am going to live like much is required of me.