Scripture: Luke 19:11-27
Key verse: (17) “Well done, good servant. Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.”
Reflection: Whenever I meet people who tell me they do not believe in God, I ask, “Tell me about the God you don’t believe in.” People have offered a variety of responses. Some have said, “I don’t believe in a god who makes horrible things like hurricanes happen to judge people for their sins.” Or, “I don’t believe in a god who is some cosmic puppet master orchestrating everything that happens to us every moment of our lives.” Or, “I don’t believe in some divine Santa Claus who gives us stuff if we’re good and punishes us if we’re bad.” In most cases I respond, “I don’t believe in that god either.” Every now and then, they ask, “Well, what god do you believe in?”
That’s the question at the heart of Jesus’ “Parable of the Pounds” in Luke 19. It’s more familiar parallel, “Parable of the Talents” is found in Matthew 25:14-30. Luke’s version is a bit confusing as it involves ten servants, not three; and we only get a report from three of the ten servants. They are entrusted with one pound each, as opposed to five talents, three talents, and one talent in Matthew. Despite the differences, the gist of the parable is similar. The first two servants who report back invest what was given, and present sizeable returns on the master’s investment. The final servant hid the pound because he was afraid, and presents it back to his master, saying, “Lord, here is your pound. I wrapped it in a piece of cloth, for I was afraid of you, because you are a harsh man; you take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.” Is that who this landowner really is?
Who is the God in whom we believe? Do we see God as harsh? Do we see God as one we should fear in this way? Or do we see God as generous and trusting, as one who would entrust significant resources to servants in hopes that they would put them to work and multiply them for the sake of the kingdom? In this parable it seems the servants get what they expect.
As Christians we believe Jesus is the revelation of God. In him we see the nature of God. In him we see God is forgiving, God heals, God empowers, God calls and sends. Such a God is not harsh; certainly not a God to fear in such a way that we take what has been entrusted to our care and hide it. No, the God we know in Jesus calls us to put whatever we’ve been given to work in service to the expansion of the kingdom. This is the God in whom I believe. How about you?
Prayer: For all you have entrusted to us, we thank you, O God. Give us faith to put our talents to work in service to your vision for our world. Empower us to be faithful with a little, that we might be entrusted with much. Amen.
Author: Joe Clifford
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].