The One Talent Man
One of the curiosities about the Lutheran Christian faith is not so much in the way of what we believe or don't believe, but rather what we believe about ourselves. An example of this thought can be found in the Parable of the Talents.
It is a simple story, yet like most simple things, the longer you look at it the more questions it raises. And chief among the questions is why is it that Jesus puts the one talent man on the spot? For no matter where you swing the spotlight over the story of the talents, it inevitably is drawn to the little man cowering in front of his master, offering up his one talent all safe and sound...” He wasn't necessarily an evil or selfish man. But Christ does point the finger at him? Actually it is precisely because of our Lord's great and constant concern for the little, apparently unimportant people, and what we consider insignificant things in life, that He turns the spotlight on the one talent man.
It's all part of God’s great campaign to reverse our ordinary scale of values. Here we are, you and I, forever being hypnotized by the busy and important affairs of the world, with a fantastic appetite for size and bigness. If it's big we figure it must be an indication of some unusual worth or value. So our Lord, in contrast, is forever picking out some insignificant detail and making that important.
Five loaves and two fish among 5,000. The tiniest seed He could think of, a mustard seed. The smallest coin in circulation, a widows mite. All this to accustom our eyes to a new way of looking at things. That size and bigness are enough a delusion and snare, and the small insignificant are loaded with possibilities. What is true in the world of things is true in the world of people. And yet, notice how God works. Not in the center of the world's stage, but off in a corner where you'd least expect Him. First He chooses an obscure little nomadic tribe and promises them, of all people, His care. Then later He sends His Son, not into the center of things, but into an off corner of the world. Born not even in a decent bed, but in a stable of a tiny village. Has Him grow up like a peasant, not even in the center of that little country, and finally has Him buried in a borrowed tomb. And this Son of His continues this same type of emphasis upon the small and insignificant, shunning the big and important people, the five talent men, who as in the story, are perfectly capable of taking care of themselves, and making friends with the oddest lot of unpromising souls you ever saw. A woman taken in adultery. A blind beggar along the roadside and that ridiculous and impossible little man in the tree, Zacchaeus. And all of this to get us adjusted to this quite incredible idea that God is tremendously concerned about little ordinary people. About you and me.
Rip the halos off the heroes and saints of the past. Take a look at them before the halo. Moses, a man with blood on his hands and a stammer in his tongue. James and John, loud mouthed fishermen, blustering about what big-shots they were going to be in the kingdom of God. Peter, a blundering hulk of a man, with his foot in his mouth half of the time. Paul, an unimpressive, bitter little Pharisee, fighting and snapping at the heels of the earliest Christians. Stand them up without the halos, these little one talent men, whose one talent God took and twisted into a halo so that today we call them saints.
They had taken whatever God had given them, no matter how unpromising it may have appeared, trusting only that somehow God would make something out of it.
So now the spotlight shifts from this fearful cautious man in the parable and turns its glare on you. Naturally, it would be more convenient if we could work the spotlight. We'd shift it in a hurry, and like the covers of TIME magazine, keep it trained on the five talented men where it belongs. But God handles the spotlight despite our protests. He keeps turning it back on you. He wants to know what you've done, and what you're doing now with your God given opportunities. The fact of the matter is, if we take this parable seriously, and the Man who told it, all heaven is in a sense breathless at this moment watching on tiptoe, wondering about you and I.
You see, God's challenge may not the big important people. No, ordinary one talent people are God's biggest challenge, because of the devilish notion that what we are and what we do is of very little importance..
God wants us to know, whether you believe it or not, and no matter how incredible it may seem to you, that all heaven is at this very moment wondering about you and I and what kind of a person we are going to be.