Are You Trustworthy?



Matthew 25:14-30

25:14 “For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them;

25:15 to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away.

25:16 The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents.

25:17 In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents.

25:18 But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

25:19 After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them.

25:20 Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.’

25:21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’

25:22 And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.’

25:23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’

25:24 Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed;

25:25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’

25:26 But his master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter?

25:27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest.

25:28 So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents.

25:29 For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.

25:30 As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

Midrash on Matthew 

Upside Down ChurchOnce again, Jesus’ parable confounds the established order.

The first image that comes to mind is the congregation who are hanging on for dear life to their capital. Over the years these congregations have accumulated a tidy little rainy day fund. There is always a cadre, usually of older men, who count it as wisdom, and see it as their solemn and sacred duty, to make sure that the capital is preserved. Yes, the numbers are dwindling. But thanks to their careful stewardship, the doors of the church will remain open. This epitomizes a poverty mentality that is rampant in this day and age of the decline of church. In our fear, we shrink G_d’s abundance, and focus on survival.

Cast these worthless servants into outer darkness! Ouch. The alternative? Invest it on the Kin(g)dom of G_d, I would guess.

The Christian life apparently isn’t about conservation. It’s about multiplication and amplification of abundance. Repeat, it’s not about conservation—not of the pot of money, not of the pews, not of the committee system, not of the organist who’s been playing the same stuff for 25 years. It’s about investment, multiplication, amplification of abundance.

Multiply and amplify all that you’ve been entrusted with, your very life.

Most of us live by fear, like the third slave, who dug and hole in his backyard, and buried what the master had given him, for fear of losing it. Fear leads to poverty mentality. Is your life run by fear and poverty mentality or investment in abundance?

I watched Rize, last week, a documentary about black youth in East L.A. who are actually poor. But don’t live with poverty mentality. To all appearances the only way out of poverty was to join one of the local gangs. But one of these gang members decided to become a clown, and perform for children’s birthday parties. Other youth saw what he was doing, and started apprenticing with him. At the time of the shooting of the documentary “Clown”, the man who started it all, said that there were probably fifty of these groups that had sprung up spontaneously.  The movement was rhyzomatic, the roots spread underground, connected, leaderless, but with each group doing its own thing.

Part of clowning in this neck of the woods is dancing, and man, these kids can dance. Instead of kill people and sell drugs as a protest against poverty, they find a place of inner richness, and dance their story of oppression. They have no financial inheritance to work with. Nobody, as the head clown said, gave them nothin’. But they connected with a rich lineage of African dance and added some L.A. moves to come up with a kind of dance called “krumping”.

In krumping, there is no hold back. All the rage, all the violence, all the protest, all the hope, all the erotic vitality, comes pouring out, and for white, middle class eyes— we who are so careful and constrained with our bodies—it’s an orgy of self-expression. They put it all the line. Each dance is a novel expression of what’s going on inside. This is investment embodied.

Oh, and most of them go to church, and dance, in church. Hmmm….These kids are taking what they’ve been given, amplifying and multiplying it. They are the “trustworthy” ones in the parable, those who have been given a little, but will be entrusted with much more because they are their status of trustworthy ones who found the abundance rather than getting stuck in the poverty.

The church needs to get krumped.

Barrels of Money - Victor DubrueilIf we take the parable literally for a moment and assume that it’s about money (which it’s not primarily) it becomes clear that our financial system is more like the frightened third servant than the first and second. And let’s not be deceived by confusing the apparent similarities of our market-driven capitalist system with the investment activity of the first and second servants in the parable.

Our economic system is so very conservative. The whole thing is rigged so that the wealthy can’t lose. It is a fear-based system set up by the very privileged to perpetuate their own wealth. It’s got third servant written all over it.

We now know that there was literally no risk for the big banks and the big players in the mortgage-backed security scandals. Post meltdown, it’s pretty much the same players, who got away with their greed with little more than a hand smack, and it’s the same economists, the same politicians, all playing the same game.

And the game is not about investing in a new future. It’s about fear-based investing in the old order, not the Kin(g)dom of G_d. It is the privileged taking what they’ve received as gift from Mother Earth, making enormous profits, and then burying these profits in their own backyard so that there is no chance of losing the wealth. The parable is about multiplying and amplifying true wealth, not preserving old money.  If we assume that the master is G_d then we can pretty much assume that the wealth is meant to be distributed justly. Now it is accumulating and stagnating in the hands of the wealthiest 5%.

Jesus didn’t mince words about those whose fear-based investors who aren’t trustworthy multipliers and amplifiers in the service of the whole.

“As for (these worthless slaves) throw (them) into the outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 25:30). Okay, so this is Matthew’s own penchant for divine judgment. The Spirit of the prophet Jesus is represented somewhere in there.

The owner in the parable is looking for the quality of trustworthiness. The trustworthy are those who will take the gift of life (abundance) and multiply it. This shouldn’t be abstract. Every single moment of every day the whole universe comes to you concentrated and coalesced in the experience of now. It takes a universe to make this moment. All of the divine activity inherent in the whole of the universe is present to you and to me right here, right now. Truly the Kin(g)dom of G_d is right here, right now in your experience of your everyday routine.

But the Whole of it, the Whole Itself, God or Christ consciousness, call it what you will, is presented to us each moment as a gift—Early Childhood - Donald Zolandlike the talents that the three servants receive. It’s yours baby. What a gift. What are you going to do with it?

Granted, ordinary waking states miss this miracle because we are worried about the future or stuck in the past. But in non-ordinary states of consciousness, it’s the most obvious thing. How do we “break on through to the other side”?

Step one: Focused attention: The way we multiply and amplify this mind-boggling, gobsmacking gift of G_d is through focused attention to what is happening right now, assuming that G_d and the whole universe are showing up in it. This is why there are so many forms of meditation, all of which have the goal simply to get our attention focused on what is arising now.

Step two: Fearless self-abandonment. And now, abandon yourself fearlessly to this moment. Surrender your egoic fascination with the past, and the illusion that you can control the future by worrying about it. Bring your attention to the person sitting across from you at the breakfast table and allow a natural fascination and curiosity to reveal the radiance of the human being eating oatmeal with you. If said person also happens to be present and accounted for it’s game on. The fascination will be mutual and I guarantee you will both be carried away in a reverie of revelation—namely it’s All here right here in your awareness. You don’t need to wait for it. It’s not coming in some distant future.

You will be lost in communion, which is love, which is abundance, which will be multiplied. Which will please G_d immensely. And critically, the universe will then have searched out and found out two more trustworthy mystics through whom to build the New Jerusalem.

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