The following understanding was first brought to my attention by my good friend and brother in The Lord, Don Hurley.
Our focus will be on the one talent slave, but first a word about the context. In making the application to the Kingdom of God, we must realize that we are not speaking here of financial investment, stock market investment as distinct from putting money in a bank. However, The Lord is speaking about high risk investment as contrasted with the relative safety of money in the bank. Don’s insight into this had its focus on the nature of the investment.
In the Kingdom of God, the investment is in relationships. Jesus is the investor, He staked everything on relationship – first of all, His relationship with His Father, and, with His Father as, His backer, He invested everything in us who believe. He is after relationships, lots of them. When the Greeks wanted to meet Him, He went away and left the job to us.
He has deposited himself in us, and The Holy Spirit continues to bring us even more of Him. Jesus is looking for a return on that investment. He expects us to risk investing ourselves in others.
For the slave who had very little experience of The Lord, there were two problems, one a problem of perception, and the other, a very real fear.
If we have no sense that The Lord has sown anything of substance into out lives – If we know little or nothing of Him, we have a very false impression. We don’t see ourselves as having enough to take a chance on reaching out to others. The downside risk is that of rejection, rejection now, and rejection on the day when we must all give account.
This is what The Lord has promised us in this present age, “one hundred times as much as the investment, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children…”1
The fear of rejection: A word of testimony: I always wanted to be accepted. On the day I was baptized in the Spirit, I was heading for a monetary conference. Over the previous ten years I had come to know those who would be attending and speaking, I had come to know their acceptance and respect, but this day, I had a
1 Mark 10:30
Jesus button on my collar. The first person I ran into at the conference told me to take it off, that it would drive these sophisticated people away from me. He said that I would be rejected. After some considerable prayer and soul searching, I left it on, and he was right. People got out of my way for the two days of the conference. No one wanted to be seen even speaking with me. Today, I might make a different decision, but that day, I made the right one. The acceptance of those in attendance meant too much to me, almost more than obeying The Lord, I was baptized in The Spirit prior to making that decision. I needed that power to do the right thing.
It does not require a PhD. to be led by the Spirit. There are many cues, but where relationships are concerned perhaps one of the strongest is found in: “And they said to one another, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while He spoke to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?”2
Where The Lordship of Christ in relationship is concerned, about the closest carnal analogy I can think of is the feeling described as “love at first sight.” Mary had Jesus inside of her, but did not speak the Magnificat until the John the Baptist leapt in the womb of Elizabeth.
Where a tangible response to Jesus in another person is concerned, John the Baptist was the first, and that while he was still in his mother’s womb. Elizabeth took the risk of telling this to Mary. Mary had the confirmation she needed to express the content of her heart.
Please allow me to bring this a little closer to home. One evening quite some years ago now, I was sharing a fresh insight about relationships that come from God. When I was through sharing, I asked the people who were there, “Well, who do you think you are?” I asked the question in a very gentle and loving way, not in the Satanic sense in which this question is normally asked. Those present were like children on Christmas morning, thinking about who the Lord had made them to others, and others who had been made special to them by The Lord. The implications of the question went far beyond that room, but for some, who were there, came the discovery of who they were to others in the room.
One fellow with whom I had felt a close bond for some time, was very quiet, however. I approached him asked the question again, “Well, who do you think you are?” He started to respond, tears flooded his eyes, he choked up, turned on his heal and left.
2 Luke 24:32
Several days later, he arrived at my office, I jumped up to hug his neck, and he waved me off, saying that he had the flu, but had to come by. He went on to explain that I had asked him a question, and the question deserved an answer. He also said that he had known a lot of rejection in his life, and had great difficulty risking rejection once again, but he went on, “I think that you are my dad.” That was all I had to hear. I leaped over the desk, landed in his lap, hugging and kissing him. We sat there and wept like a couple of babies. I prayed over him, as I had my arms around him. The Lord healed him on the spot, and he went off to find his natural son to take them to the winter Olympics, which were in Lake Placid New York that year. We have been very close ever since that day.
On another occasion I was overseas, had spoken to the church through a translator who I had barely met. Afterward he came up to me with tears in his eyes, and said, “I want to tell you how important it is for me that you are here, but I do not understand why.”
I wonder if you can guess how this made me feel. I responded, “I think I understand, and we need to talk.” By then, I also was a little wet around the bib. We had lunch together, he, his wife, their little girl, and me. It was very precious.
There was the first time that I was overwhelmed with feeling for a complete stranger. I met him in Detroit, at a men’s conference on evangelism sponsored by the Assemblies of God. We were knit together immediately. It felt like “love at first sight. I had no doctrine to account for it at the time. I felt like I had been emotionally violated. The feeling was so strong it was as though God had physically altered my heart and mind. It was sovereign. It felt illegal, it felt weird, but it did feel. We continue to walk in that grace right up to today. I didn’t understand it at the time. It happened before either of us had even had a chance to speak with one another, but, afterward, was certainly confirmed as being mutual, and now, validated over time. In this case, The Lord had given me an older brother.
When I discovered spiritual fathers in my heart, and shared the sense that I had with them, in each case, the expression of my own heart’s content toward them brought tears to their eyes. In two cases, they were men who had ministered for many years, but had interacted with others more in the context of doctrine, and ministry than the reality of relationship.
More and more, I found myself risking transparency, and more and more I found the Kingdom of God increasing. I found it increasingly easy to take the risks.
Then there was the first time I had these special feelings in my heart for a woman other than my wife. I was tormented by the feelings, I was sure that they were illegal, I was sure that it had to be lust. Internally, I was running away from someone that I later discovered The Lord had given into my life as a spiritual daughter. When I finally stopped to look at the old creation long enough to discover what life had to teach me about relationships, I realized that I was not up all night every time someone’s child was sick, but I was up all night when my own children were sick. The old creation taught me that there is room for special feelings toward other women. I was the father of two daughters. We know who we are to each other, so we can be very close with no problem. In fact something would be terribly wrong if we were not very close. Now I have daughters in the Lord with whom I am very close, and it is wonderful.
I have a mother in The Lord as well, she has long since gone on to be with The Father, but the crafty woman got me into the place where I first came to know The Lord, and looked after my spiritual welfare quite a while after that. The mother of Rufus was a spiritual mother to Paul also.3
After a long dry spell, The Lord has recently given me another spiritual daughter. I met her years ago, but for a number of reasons, said nothing, about what I had felt. After more than 6 years, as we were walking to breakfast at a conference, I put my arm around her and said, “Alright, I think I have waited long enough to ask you a question… Who do you think you are in relationship to me?” She answered, “I think I’m your daughter in The Lord.” It was that simple – that clear. I wonder if you can imagine how I felt. I immediately answered, “Yes!, and I could not possibly love you any more if you were my own flesh and blood.”
Think about it, take the kaleidoscope of emotions felt toward a child from the first news of their conception, through birth, and growing up, and cram all of that into a single moment in time, and you will understand why I could barely stand, let alone keep walking. In the weeks that followed, as we began to unwrap the gift of relationship that The Lord had given us in each other, and in anticipation of a block of time when we could share at some depth, I was minded to say a number of things as being foundational to whatever the rest of the conversation might discover.
First I repeated something already understood, that, because Jesus is Lord of who we are to each other, there would never be anything between us that could not be understood in that light. Second, that I would never want to do or say anything that
3 Romans 16:13
would violate her conscience. This would, in part be determined by the cultural givens with which she had grown up and with which she was surrounded. Third and perhaps most vulnerably, I said that, if I was not convinced that Jesus had given her into my life as a daughter, I would be scared to death, because there is no other way I could account for such strong feelings toward her. All of this was heard and understood. On a previous occasion, she had written to me:
“I have to say I was quite overwhelmed by the affirmation of our father-daughter relationship when I stepped in the door last night and saw you. Thinking about the depth of feeling that seized me (and not of my own volition) is very peculiar to me and brings tears to my eyes as I write. It seems almost presumptuous to feel so much like a daughter to you, whom I’ve known in this way for a relatively short period of time. Nevertheless…I wanted you to know.
In His prayer in John 17, Jesus said “I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me…I gave them the word that you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given, for they are yours…I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me…”
I have found myself praying that same prayer. I wasn’t praying it on purpose, so to speak, but supernaturally. Without even trying, I was saying the things that the father was saying, loving the ones that the father was loving. It wasn’t me. It was Christ who lives in me.
Jesus did not try to reproduce by having office hours, and making appointments. Rather, He said to those that Father gave Him, “come on with me.” and they had something like three, round the clock, years with each other. It must have been something! That has been our heart for many years now. We have tried to walk it out in such a way that those that the Father has given us can get as close as they want for as long as they want. Quite a few have stayed in our home, some longer than others. There have been, 3:00am desperate bursting into the house, all night deliverance sessions, lots of house calls, carried some, bandaged others, lots of tears, you name it. And all of that while our own flesh and blood children were still with us.
The flesh and blood kids are mostly gone, and now here she is. I wanted her to know that we will not likely get to have the time together that would be the desire
of a father’s heart, especially a father with a new daughter. If she moved in to the house, after three years, I might want a break, but short of that, not to count on it. This to say, that she has full and complete access, whether in tears or rejoycing, whether in confusion or in clarity, yes, even in sickness and in health, whether abounding or abased.
This is The Church as she is revealed on and between the lines of the Scriptures. To the religious she looks like a cult, but to God, she is the light of His life to the people living in darkness.
Do not be afraid, your heavenly Father is not a harsh master reaping where He has not sown. He has sown the life of His Son into your heart. Won’t you take the risk of investing Him in others? This is the work, which God requires, to believe in the one whom He has sent, perhaps the one who is standing right in front of you.
Jay Ferris – 1/18/2000
The Parable of the Talents
The following understanding was first brought to my attention by my good friend and brother in The Lord, Don Hurley.