Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Natural Talents Are of Little Significance in the Kingdom of God (Part 2)

Image result for johnpiippo branch

A few of my readers commented on my blog post "The Irrelevance of Our Natural Talents." I quoted Dallas Willard, who wrote,

"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)

Does this mean our natural talents count for nothing? Aren't we supposed to use whatever talents and circumstances we have for the glory of God?

Those are good questions, but they miss the point of what I, and Willard, are saying.

Jesus talks about being a branch, attached to himself. When you are attached, your life will bear much fruit. Fruit-bearing is what is important to Jesus.

When it comes to bearing much fruit, the attractiveness or talents of the branch are "of little significance." The untalented branch produces much fruit, just as the talented branch does. Both talent and untalent are irrelevant to fruit-bearing in the kingdom of God.

How radical and counter-cultural is this! The American Church views people in their unconnectedness. This is why people in the church are viewed hierarchically. Some people have more talent than others; hence, they are more valuable in church work.

This leads to the great illusion; viz., that we really do value talent more than connectedness to Christ (church as a Hollywood cult). As this happens, church becomes a stage, upon which the beautiful branches perform, whether connected or not. (This, BTW, undergirds the "warm body" approach to ministry, and viewing of people as functions, rather than as persons who need the Lord.)

Jesus' metaphor of the Vine and the branches subverts this way of thinking. Any branch can connect with him and bear much fruit.

Much fruit, as Jesus said. This is why talent means relatively nothing in comparison with connectedness.