by Gerald Hiestand
Have you ever thought about the connection between the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30) and the Great Commission? We all know the parable: A man is about to go away on a long journey. He calls his servants to himself and charges them with the task of investing his property. After an undisclosed amount of time he returns and demands an accounting"the hour of reckoning has come. Two of the servants make good on the assignment and enter into the joy of their master. One, however did not and does not. And for this last "servant" the results were disastrous.
The point of the parable is rather obvious. The man going away on the long journey represents Christ. The servants represent his disciples. But what does the task of investing the property represent? Too often we think about the discharge of the talents in abstract, general terms"becoming a better person, using our gifts and abilities at church (I sing in the choir), etc. Indeed. But we must be more precise. The discharge of the talents is congruous with the Great Commission.
Note the connection: Christ is about to go away on a long journey. He calls his disciples to himself and charges them with a singular assignment: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you." After an undisclosed amount of time he will return and call us to himself. The hour of reckoning will come. He will not ask us if we have been decent, moral people. He will not ask us if we have been faithful in attending church. He will not ask us if we said our prayers every night before going to bed. No. He will expect that we have been fully engaged in the one assignment that he left for us to do"making disciples.
Make no mistake about it. A true disciple of Christ is engaged in the mission of Christ. Making disciples is not something we do on the side"a spiritual hobby to be pursued in our spare time. Like the wise servants of the parable, making disciples must be the one great task of our lives. Let us not fool ourselves into thinking we can pursue some higher agenda for our lives other than Christ's agenda and still enter into his joy. In the end, the parable (rather like the Proverbs) reveals only two kinds of servants"those who hear "Well done," and those who hear "Away from me." God have mercy on us for allowing ourselves to be distracted by every little thing. Christ has promised to be with us in this task. May we who long for his presence rush to where he is and meet him in the midst of his work.
For those of us who would know and love Christ, the Great Commission must be the singular focus of our lives"the one great task that, above all, we are striving to make a good return on. And by God's grace, we will.
re-posted with permission
Gerald has served as the Society for the Advancement of Ecclesial Theology (SAET) board president since 2006. He has been in pastoral ministry for eight years, and serves currently as the Senior Associate Pastor of Calvary Memorial Church in Oak Park, IL.