One of Jesus' parables that has always bugged me a little is the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30). Jesus tells about a man who was going on a journey and called his three slaves together and entrusted each one with a different amount of money - five talents, two talents, and three talents.
The first two slaves did some wheeling and dealing and doubled the amount of money they had been given. The third slave buried the funds in the ground. When the master returned, the first two slaves were commended for their industriousness, but the third slave was labeled as "wicked and lazy."
Until recently I used to think the third slave got a raw deal. After all, he did the conservative thing with the money entrusted to him. Besides, his master was described as a "harsh man," so the slave was afraid of risking, and losing, his master's money.
But then I noticed that the narrator (i.e., Jesus) doesn't describe the master in such terms. In fact, the master was an incredibly generous man. A talent was a coin equivalent to the salary of a day laborer for 20 years, and this master entrusted eight of these coins to his slaves. It's not too far-fetched to imagine that he entrusted his entire fortune to them.
Is that why the first two slaves had no qualms about taking risks with the master's money? Did the generosity of the master embolden them to attempt great things for him? The third slave assumed his master was a harsh man and took the easy way out.
I can't help wondering if I have fallen into the same habit. Because my memory is so short, my vision so limited, and my courage so inadequate I lose sight of the goodness of God and water down my discipleship to what I can manage on my own. Consequently, I wind up wasting much that God has entrusted to me.
I hope the same cannot be said of us here at FCC. I pray we are not so short-sighted about the grace of God that we will bury our talents in the ground rather than risk using them boldly.
Which brings me to the subject of our proposed renovation. By now you have had your first look at the project. If not, there will be ample opportunities to get information and ask questions before a vote is taken in January. As I've said on other occasions, I honestly don't know if God wants us to do this or not. But I do know this: I believe God wants us, as a congregation, to tackle some big challenge. We don't have the option of saying, "Well, this renovation is too expensive so we just won't do anything." That's burying our talent in the ground. No, if God does not want us to do the renovation, what equally huge task are we willing to take up?
God has given us so much. Will we take a risk for God? I don't know about you, but I am tired of digging in the dirt.