Saturday, January 19, 2019

The Relative Irrelevance of Our Natural Talents

A snowy, cold morning in Monroe


Some people are more naturally talented than others. Some are smarter, more athletic, more dynamic in their personalities, and more beautiful by certain earthbound standards. But when it comes to God and his kingdom, natural talents are not what are needed. Someone with all the above might produce nothing of heavenly value; someone with none of the above might produce goods that last forever.

This is about the purpose of our lives, which is: to bear fruit that will last. Only God can grow this. It is the result of a life spent abiding in Christ. We get no credit when it happens. Our own talent counts for nothing. Talent fades and is forgotten; character influences and endures.

Whatever abilities, circumstances, and capital a person possesses in this life diminishes in comparison to lasting, eternal produce. What is important is the fruit, not our relative amazingness. Any intrinsic awesomeness we might have counts for nothing in the eyes of God. When Jesus says, in John 14, that his disciples will do what he has been doing, it is not because they are so talented. 

Most Christians, I suspect, fail to understand this. We are so caught up in the values of the Entertainment Church that mere, godly fruit-bearers are relegated to the lowest echelons of the honor-shame hierarchy. (Francis Chan is writing about this in his new book Letters to the Church.)

Listen closely to Dallas Willard, who writes:

"Natural gifts, external circumstances, and special opportunities are of little significance. The good tree, Jesus said, “bears good fruit” (Matthew 7:17). If we tend to the tree, the fruit will take care of itself."
(Willard, The Great Omission: Reclaiming Jesus's Essential Teachings on Discipleship, Kindle Locations 1815-1819)

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My two books are:

Praying: Reflections on 40 years of Solitary Conversations with God

Leading the Presence-Driven Church