Judges 4:1-7 and Psalm 123
Zephaniah 1:7, 12-18 and Psalm 90:1-12
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
Peace be with you!
Have you ever wondered who is in charged of the church? I mean really in charge of the church as in who is making the hard decisions. Is it the congregation’s members? Is it the pastor? Is it a group of elites of the biggest donors? Is it the church council? Is it the church council’s president? Is it the bishop? Is it the regional office personal? Or is it [fill in the blank]? Or (let’s be radical) is it God?
For most of you, a name or name(s) of unique and physical individuals come to mind. You either love or hate the individual or individuals for the way they run the church for making it contemporary or keeping it traditional…or for bring in more young adults and youth or keeping them out…or [whatever “it” is] they are or are not doing. But is the church really run by individuals in the world? I mean the church has been two thousand plus years. Individuals are born; they live; then they die. So can individuals really run the church?
Is God running the church? I know it is a radical idea, but if you have been reading my devotions for the past year, you should be accustom to my radical ideas – so hear me out.
A few weeks ago we discussed how the community creates the church. The parable for this week defines the church as a community being owned by God the Father who is the one the church looks to for wisdom, comfort, and love through forgiveness. And because God owns the church, he entrusts us to be the church, to strengthen its roots in the world, and to spread the good news of the Triune God.
In the parable, God is the master who entrusts three slaves with talents. (One talent was worth one year of wages – this is not just a silly gold coin.) The first slave is given five talents, which he trades with and makes five more talents (Matthew 25:16, 20). This makes the master very happy, so he puts the first slave in charge of many things (Matthew 25:21). The second slave is given two talents, which he trades with and makes two more talents (Matthew 25:17, 22). Again, the master is very happy, so he puts the second slave in charge of many things (Matthew 25:23). The two slaves take what the master gives them and doubles it. When we use our gifts to spread the good news and multiply God’s love, we are growing in our spiritual gifts and expanding God’s kingdom on earth.
In a sense, these two slaves are agents of the Triune God – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. God entrusts the two agents spiritual gifts to spread the good news of redemption, forgiveness, and peace, and they run with their gifts and trained many more individuals how to be his agents. They were able to go out and build communities of agents. The two agents also trust God will come back in his own timing to take them and their fellow agents to heaven.
On the other hand, the third slave is given one talent, which he buries in the field and makes nothing (Matthew 25:18). Upon the master’s return, the third slave gives the one talent back to him while expressing his fears of his master as a wicked, mischievous man who steals (Matthew 25:24-25). The master is not happy and proceeded to admit he is a wicked, mischievous man who steals (Matthew 25:26). The master complains that the third slave did not even have the sense to put the one talent in the bank in order to earn interest (Matthew 25:27). Then the master throws the third slave out into the darkness (Matthew 25:30) after giving his talent to the first slave (Matthew 25:28).
Many commentaries focus on the harshness of the master who symbolizes God. God is our master who we like to think of as loving, not as harsh. So how can this parable portray a harsh God? I would like to throw something out there. Maybe the third slave represents an agent of Satan, the fallen angel. We know Satan lurks in the darkness where the master threw the third slave (Matthew 25:30).
We also know God only gives abundance to those who follow and serve him (Matthew 25:29). And on last day, God will take us, those who believe in him and do his work, from this world, Satan’s realm, up to heaven to live in his kingdom. We also know agents of Satan do not trust that God will come back to redeem his agents. If God has not come by now, why would he come? (But we know different.)
Satan may even think of God as a wicked, mischievous man who steals by redeeming the souls of the fallen. Yes, God is wicked for forgiving us, so we turn our backs to Satan. Yes, God is mischievous for using Moses to free the Israelites from Egypt, for using Mary to carry, birth, and raise his only begotten son, for using John the Baptist to prepare the path for Jesus Christ, for using Jesus to redeem and forgive us through his crucifixion, death, and resurrection, and for using us against Satan. Yes, God is a thief for stealing us from Satan and annexing his kingdom.
So yes, my God is a wicked, mischievous man who steals. And thanks be to God! (Because I’ll have it no other way…sorry Satan.)
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for giving us talents and giving us the ability to use them to spread the good news. Help us to use our talents to serve your kingdom and to annex the world from Satan. Thank you for entrusting us with your church. Amen.
Triune God – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit
Please feel free to answer the reflective questions through comments. Please agree to disagree and be respectable to each other. Please take a moment, if you have not already, to sign the covenant. You can answer all or just one of the questions.
1. How do you double the talents God gives you to expand his kingdom?
2. How does Satan try to steal you away?