23rd Sunday after Pentecost (November 16 • 2014)
‘Our Life is God’s Investment’
After hearing the reading from Matthew today, some of us may think that Jesus must have been a capitalist. After all, the parable kind of suggests that we have to invest our money instead of only keeping it, hiding it under the ground.
But, in his parable, Jesus didn’t teach about how to grow money. Jesus was no Robert Kiyosaki and his best-selling book: Rich Dad Poor Dad. Jesus taught about growing the Kingdom of God.Money, in this parable, was simply a metaphor for God’s Kingdom that he proclaimed. So Jesus was not a capitalist; definitely not in the way we understand the word capitalist today.
Jesus invited those who had received the message of God’s Kingdom not to be like those who didn’t take risk because they were afraid of losing their money. Accepting the invitation to enter God’s Kingdom and follow Jesus is not risk-free. It is only those who dare to take the risk who are worthy to be his followers.
Of course, the parable ends with a happy ending for the two servants who took the risk and invested the money. But what would have happened if they had lost the money? Would their master also rebuke them like he rebuked the servant who didn’t invest the coins? Would they receive less or more punishment than the punishment received by the servant who did nothing with the money? Or would their master still praise them?
In the parable, the master praised the two servants because they took the effort to earn more money. The master rebuked the other servant because he didn’t even try. So, it was not the result of the investment that earned the master’s praise; it was the effort.
This is where the metaphor has its limit. All investors today would want their investment to grow in value. All investors today give their money, for example, to Financial Managers because they hope that these managers could grow the value of their investment. And if these managers fail, they would look for different managers.
But the parable today doesn’t suggest that the master would rebuke the servants if they made losses. The parable suggests that the master would only rebuke them if they did nothing. It was the servants’ effort that was being praised here and not the result of the investment.
Indeed, a good investor would take both profit and loss as part of their investment strategy. A good investor would know that he must take risk to grow as an investor.
Those how have invested in the share market must be familiar with the phrase: market volatility; the ups and downs of the economic market. Good investors know that, to succeed, they need to ride the market volatility. In other words, they need to endure the ups and downs of the value of their assets. They need to be calm when the value of their asset goes down. They need to be patient to wait until the value recovers and their investment starts making profit. They have to be confident that the companies whose shares they have bought are resilient companies that could endure the ups and downs of market.
God is like a good investor. God has invested heavily in our life because God has full confidence in our value. God sees our potential and God wants us to grow. And God knows that the only way to grow is for us to take risk and be ready to accept failures. Indeed, the ultimate mistake is not failing, but never trying.
Baptism is a public declaration of God’s investment in our lives. But baptism is not the end of God’s investment; it is the beginning of it. We have to work hard to make sure that the investment that God has put in our life will grow.
This task, however, is not only the task of the people being baptised, but also the task of their parents, family, friends, and entire community of faith. It is the responsibility of the people of God to make sure that God’s investment is properly looked after.
And there will always be a risk when we try to grow God’s investment in our life and other people’s life. There is always a risk when we try to step out of our comfort zone. We can be rejected or get burned out. Other people may hurt us and we may hurt other people.
But the potentials of new lives being born, of new relationships being forged, of old and broken relationships healed or restored, of the Gospel being planted in people’s heart, of the beginning of the new heaven and the new earth are too great to be ignored. These potentials should convince us that the best way to be Jesus' disciples is by taking the risk to grow his Kingdom.
Indeed, every investment has one goal: that our asset will grow in value. God too wants us to grow in our value.
But it is not money that God invests in our life; God invests God’s own life by dying on the cross in Christ Jesus. It means that the result of that investment must be a new life born within each one of us; a life that resembles God’s own life; a life that reflects Jesus’ life on earth.
Friends, God took the risk by dying on the cross in Christ. Would we too take the risk? Would we too dare to invest our life so that the message of the Gospel would spread and grow?
Which servant do we want to become: the one who remained idle or the twos who took the risk? We have the options before us. It is now the time to make the choice.