The one concept I love most about Christianity is that of a personal God.  One who knows and loves me personally.  One who would have died on the cross for me if I was the only one in the world; one who knew me before I was in my mother's womb; one who called me by name before I was born; and yet there it is: John  3:16 on billboards and placards at sporting events:  For God so loved the WORLD ......  I'm not an only child.  I have siblings whom God loves as much as I and how he treats me can not negatively impact how he treats my siblings if His love is perfect.  His is a collective love.  A love that encompasses everyone who ever lived  In one place he pays the last one to show up to serve him the same as the first one who did so.  In another he takes away from those who don't use their gifts wisely and gives them to those who have shown Him they will use them well; showing mercy and Justice.  When he showed mercy to the late comer workers he pointed out to the others that they were not shortchanged as they got paid what they had agreed to for the work they did.  So Mercy did not violate His concept of Justice.  However when a man refused to use what was placed in his care wisely it was taken away and he was not shown mercy.  There is a point where the individual has a responsibility to his siblings to do his best for them as well as him or herself.  I don't claim to know where that point lies, but I serve one who does so when things happen that seem unexplainable I remind myself that I am just one tiny piece of a great living puzzle He is putting together and I trust Him to work things out for those who trust Him and live according to His word and I pray for wisdom to discern the signs of the times, for as a recent Jewish prophet wrote "the times they are a changing".

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Comment by Forrest Curo on 12th mo. 27, 2016 at 1:31am

I think the point of the "Talents" story isn't that "God will get you for not using yours"; it's that "If you're too timid to use what you're given, you might as well not have it."

Since the master in that story is not really the sort of person a good contemporary Jew would have admired -- ('Reaping where one did not sow' was more likely to point to larceny or robbery than to simple good fortune or to divine favor) -- He might not be intended as a symbol of God so much as 'the laws of this wicked world,' 'the way earthly masters do things.'

Despite those quibbles, the story clearly does work in the spiritualized sense we tend to find there, ie it generalizes into a valid principle of how to live to best serve God's purposes.

Comment by Kirby Urner on 12th mo. 27, 2016 at 3:23am

"God only knows" (the expression) resonates with the fact we each seem to be given the gift of a self with a lifetime we get the privilege of knowing, from the inside out as it were. 

There's an intimacy with person-hood that makes sense "in the image of" (the eye of)  some witness-observer. We're beheld, appreciated, by a one more indwelling, more hidden, a teacher (judge). 

I understand why some Christians maybe find Zen's "empty mirror" imagery too impersonal, too cold, whereas celebrating the love of a Father for His only Son, might seem warmer and cozier, especially in winter. It's not either / or though.

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