Fully Clothed In Faith

[]Fully clothed in faith…it would seem as though that's what the Apostle Paul was saying to the church in Thessalonica: for the folks to be able to put on the breastplate of faith, to put on those physical symbols of protection, but to put them on with an eye to one's faith. And we hear that with an air of understanding that that is what Christ calls us to do. We have just seen the church grow in membership and it is an exciting thing. I know I'm overjoyed. I was so happy that all of those who were invited to join came today and joined to become one with us. And we thank you, and we welcome you. It's exciting to see our church growing in numbers. And it's also exciting when we see our church growing in faith because when we become members in the church, it's not just simply about the covenant vows we make. It's about living them out. When we become Christians, it's not just about saying the 'Jesus Prayer,' it's about becoming Christ to others. That is what makes our faith full.

So the Apostle Paul is telling the church that, "I don't have to write to you about any of these things. You know about these things. And we don't know what is coming, but be prepared. Live in your faith. Put on the teachings of Christ. Make that part of your daily living, and you will be found ready." If we take that message coming from the Apostle Paul and we move on then to the lesson from Jesus speaking about the servants and the talents…the one who is given five, and the one who is given two, and one who is given only one…the message in there isn't so much about the harshness of the master, who in this story we're supposing is God who comes for an accounting of all of us servants. What is in there is the understanding that when those talents are given, those who were faithful, who were clothed in the faith that they had and lived out their faith, took what the master had given them, the gifts and the talents, and went out and used them for their master's benefit.

The one who had five talents went out immediately with encouragement and with inspiration and was able to find a way to make five more talents. And we know in the end that servant hears, "Well, done; enter thou into the joy of your master." The one who had two talents went out and found a way to earn two more, expanding that which had been given. Again, "Well, done; enter thou into the joy of your master." But the one who was afraid, who possibly didn't have too much faith in the master because he thought he was a harsh master, who enjoyed rewards that he did not earn, that person was so afraid and stifled that he essentially did nothing, except go and bury this talent in the ground, to hide it away so he could give it back when the master returned. And though many of us might say, "Well, that sounds like an okay thing to do, you want to make sure you can give back the money that you were given," the master is harsh on that servant, saying, "Oh, so I receive things that I didn't earn, do I? So I'm harsh, am I? Well, why didn't you take that money and at least go give it to the bank and give me my two percent interest that I could be making on this talent? No, you've wasted the talent that I have given you, so out with you into the place of mourning and crying and gnashing of teeth." Those particular words in that Gospel bring to our minds that this really is about God and us. God, the master, and us, the servants. And God gives us much, although God gives more to some than others, as we hear in the story. Some were given five talents, some were given two, and some were given only one. But God gives all of us something, some talent, some gift to share.

So when we look at what the Apostle Paul was saying and flash back to him for a moment, putting on the faith of Christ, putting on the teachings of Christ, being Christ to others, we are able to do that through the talents and abilities that God has given us. And to each of us, they may be different. But each of us has capacity to do something for God. Some of us may have a capacity of only one talent that we can give back by serving God. Others might have two or three, or four or five. I know many church members who are doing five different ministries in the church right now. And so you're right up there with that first faithful servant, using your gifts and talents for God. That's what being a person of Christian faith is really about. That's what being a faithful individual is. It's about doing what God has asked us to do, and doing it willingly. It's about not hiding away these gifts that we've been given or these abilities, but about sharing them. And the more we use those gifts for the glory of God and share our gifts with others, our talents, our abilities, or our funds, the more we grow into fullness of faith and even more spiritual development will happen within us. There will be more growth. There will be more connection to that which is holy. And there will be fewer worries for us about tomorrow. The more we commit ourselves to following Christ, the more we will feel energized in each day. It doesn't mean there won't be hardships that we face, but it means on the other side of those hardships, we will be stronger. We will be even more convinced that God is faithful and loving, and has been with us all the way.

So where do you fit in the realm of being clothed in Christ? Where do you fit when it comes to being fully clothed in faith? Which servant are you? And what ability do you have that you can share for the glory of God? What is it that God has touched your heart to do? What has become the passion in your life that you know is helpful to others? Those are those gifts you can share. And those are the gifts that the church needs. As we're growing in numbers in this church, we're also growing in need of people sharing their gifts and abilities in the ministry of our church. And you'll hear a little bit more about that next Sunday on Budget Sunday because the stewardship of the church is much more than just the money. The stewardship, or our stewardship is time, talents and our money and offerings that we give to God. All of those make the church a vibrant and living place, just as sharing all of that makes faith in you alive and vibrant and living.

So as we hear this passage again from the Apostle Paul and we hear the story of the talents and the master, let us focus on the understanding that from what we have been given, there is an expectation that we will turn around and share. Let us pray on that and let us live into being fully clothed in faith.

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