God Likes You

likePentecost 23A: God Likes You

Matthew 25:14-30

11/16/2014

There is a special space in your bulletins today.

It’s for a drawing…

Here’s the space…I’ve entitled it:

“What does God look like?”

Some of you may take this time and draw something there.

(I’d love to see what you come up with!)

But even if you don’t actually make a drawing,

I’d like you to think for a moment for yourself…

“What do you imagine God looks like?”

When you pray,

What picture (if any) do you have of God?

Is there an image of God that comes to mind when you read the Bible,

or speak about God to other people?

It’s an extremely important question.

Our image of God, how we picture God,

reflects our beliefs about God,

and  it also influences how we live our faith.

Let me say that again…

Our image of God, how we picture God,

            reflects our beliefs about God,

                        and it also influences how we live our faith.

If we picture a God whose primary characteristics are of one who is harsh and angry

(like Zephaniah apparently did!),

then we will live our lives in fear of God.

Everything bad that happens in life, we will take as a deserved punishment from God.

If we picture a God who never gets harsh or angry,

then we will live lives of cheap grace.

Anything and everything we do is okay;

God will forgive us, so our behavior doesn’t matter!

If we picture a God who is completely and entirely masculine,

when we are in a situation when we need comfort,

it will be more difficult to consider that God could be nurturing enough to make a difference to us… like a mother might be.

If we picture a God who is completely and entirely feminine,

when we are in a situation when we are looking for protection,

it will be more difficult to consider that God could be strong enough to make a difference to us…like a father might be.

How we picture God,

makes a difference.

There are three slaves in our gospel reading today.

Before their master goes on a journey,

he puts the three slaves in charge of his property.

Most interpreters say that the master is an allegory for God.

If that’s the case, then the third slave has a very different image of God

than the other two slaves…

and I think that’s what makes the difference

in how he lives his life.

A talent was worth more than 15 years’ wages!

So to one slave,

the master entrusts 5 talents – 75 years’ worth of wages.

To the 2nd slave,

he gives 30 years’ worth of wages.

The 3rd slave receives just one talent…

but nevertheless, it’s 15 years’ worth of wages!

As we’ve heard the story,

the first two slaves make use of the talents,

and when the master returns,

they give him back what he entrusted to them, and more.

Then there’s the third slave.

What’s the deal with the third slave?

The third slave tells the master,

“I knew that you were a harsh man,

reaping where you did not sow,

and gathering where you did not scatter seed…

so that is why I was afraid,

and hid what you gave me in the ground.”

The third slave is so afraid of

who he thinks his master is,

that he does nothing with what has been given him.

The master returns and says, I think maybe sarcastically,

“You knew that about me, did you?…”

What if this third slave was wrong?

What if his master was not a harsh man?

What if his master was loving and caring and compassionate and forgiving?

Would the slave have done something differently?

As the grand jury debates in Ferguson, Missouri,

that’s the question they’re asking too…

Was the police officer wrong in his impression of Michael Brown?

Did the officer see him first as a citizen…or first as a threat?

And did that make a difference?

And of course I hope it makes us think of ourselves…

How do we get our first impressions of people?

Are they based on who they really are or something different?

And does that make a difference in how we relate to them?

—————

We don’t know how long in the gospel reading, the master was gone.

The text says it was simply a long time.

It could have been years.

It could have been decades.

That whole time because he’s afraid of punishment, this third slave is living in absolute fear.

Not knowing when the master will return,

the talent he has been given is never, never off his mind.

He buries it in the ground,

but that doesn’t relieve the anxiety.

He checks on it constantly to be sure no one else has found it!

What energy he wastes from that anxiety!

Energy which could have used in doing something good with the talent he was given!

————————————————

So, what if our image of God isn’t complete?

Think about the picture you drew…or would draw of God.

What might you do if you weren’t afraid of God

or just plain afraid of what might happen?

What might we you differently if you discovered that God

is pleased with you, that God enjoys your company,

that God actually kind of likes you?

God loves us – but God likes us too…

as people, and as a congregation.

As we prepare for our congregation’s annual meeting,

what might we do as a church if we had no fear?

What might we do differently if we knew deeply,

that God sees Good Shepherd Lutheran Church,

knows we are having an annual meeting today,

and is excited, delighted even.

God just can’t wait to see how we will use our talents!

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