In response to two recent posts ("The Irrelevance of Our Natural Talents," and "Natural Gifts and Talents Are of Little Significance in God's Kingdom") my friend L.B. (thank you) writes:
"I agree with a lot of what you are saying. But what do you say to someone who says, "Aren't our talents given by God? Can't he use them for his glory?" Doesn't God give us talents we are good at for a reason?""
Here are some thoughts I have, in response.
Dallas Willard wrote that natural talents are of little significance? What did he mean by this?
Jesus talks to his disciples about living a fruitful life. He says that anyone who abides in him will bear much fruit. (John 14-15) "If you remain in me," says Jesus, "you will bear much fruit." So, "remaining in him" is not only for the talented people. Whether greatly gifted or unendowed, we are promised a fruit-bearing life as we abide in Christ.
In the context of John chapters 14 and 15 we see that by "fruit," Jesus means: doing the kind of things he did, and then doing even greater things. What kind of things did Jesus do? He healed sick people, delivered demonically oppressed people, his words had authority, and he raised dead people back to life. Plus, he loved his enemies from his heart, which included all of us, since "while we were his enemies, Christ died for us."
In terms of producing he kind of "fruit" Jesus bore, and which he now says his disciples can manifest - healing, delivering, authority, dead-raising, and agape love - natural abilities are of little significance. Indeed, they may be fully irrelevant, except in the sense that God will work through what we have.
Because the fruit Jesus is talking about is supernatural (produced by God), mere natural abilities are nowhere near enough to do the job.