We are familiar with Jesus’ parable of the talents. But the passage as I read it lacked a little punch to it. So, in the margins of my own Bible I added one more servant to the passage. This guy was given not five, not two and not one talent. This servant that I added was given 20 talents. Yeah, I know I am not supposed to add to the Bible, but its only in the margins so I think I am okay.
Anyway, it just so happened that this guy took his talents and did not invest it like the other guys, nor did he hide it under a rock. Instead, he had a party! It was a great party. Everyone who was anybody, or thought he was anybody came to the party.
He invited all of the movie stars, bought them the finest wines and liquors and brandished a lavish table on his friends. He had major sports stars, recording artists and some of the biggest businessmen of his day. He wanted to impress people. He even invited the church leaders. You can’t go wrong if you invite a preacher as that will add legitimacy to what you do.At the end of the party, when his master came and asked him what did he do with the 20 talents, he told him straight up: “I had a party and you should have been here!”
Then the master asked, “Is that all you did?”
This guy, without shame says, “Oh yeah…, here is your change!”
Well I have big margins in my Bible, so I can write a lot.
We have been given a legacy as an American people of African descent. We have been given the legacy of having survived being dragged from within the African inland, to the shores. A few of us survived the journey which went from the shores of Africa, to some of the nations of Europe, North Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Americas. We in North America were better off than many in these other destinations. We actually saw white people fighting and killing other white people in order to free us, when we had no guns, armies or money to do so ourselves.
We survived slavery, reconstruction, Jim Crow segregation, lynchings, mob violence and persistent intimidation from the halls of government to the institutions of higher learning and healing. We were last hired, first fired. We could not vote, had no chance within the halls of justice, and lived in housing similar to that we see in much of the third world today.
We now have an income and disposable wealth equivalent to that of several African nations combined. We literally have billions at our disposal to buy whatever we want. Now we are late to church, not because we don’t have clothes, we just cannot decide which suit goes with which pair of shoes and does the handkerchief match our cufflinks. We have been given 20 talents. What are we doing? We are having a party!
No matter where I go in Africa or the world, the legacy of Martin Luther King and others like him are known more prominently by others than known or appreciated than by those of African descent in America. Why is that? I believe because it means more to them.
It means more to them to know of our history and the struggles we faced and how our Lord and Master helped us to overcome, than it means to us. They are struggling to overcome like we once did. They have embraced our legacy, our 20 talents.
It is our 20 talents we have been given, and we are having a party.
What else do I see as I travel around the world? I see the legacy of our misguided desire to be the sexiest, nastiest, hottest, fanciest, liveliest and latest thing on the television screen. (Don’t tell my wife I see those hoochie mamas on the screen) I see us partying. I see the legacy of black entertainment gone awry with ‘nigger, bitch, whore (pronounced hoe for those who don’t get those stations), gangsta’ and gang-banger’ just to name a few of our well known trademarks. We are the hottest sport stars, wearing the latest styles, and using the foulest language on the screens
Africa in particular is inundated with this media and it feeds the desires of the flesh on a continent swimming in death and disease caused by AIDS and other sexually transmitted illnesses.
What have we done with the talent which our forefathers decreed us? What have we done with the mandate which within the American Black National Anthem? That mandate states that we will forever be true to our God and true to our native land.
We have wasted that mandate on ourselves. We have decided that the color of the carpet does not match the color of the pulpit and the pastor’s suit of clothes is too common to represent us well. We have decided that a trip to the casinos or theater on a church bus is as legitimate an outing as a trip to visit the prisoners in their need. We have concluded that a trip to Africa is only good if we are going to see the well fed animals and ignore the starving people.
“Thanks for the 20 talents master. Here’s your change Jesus!”
Well, to tell you the truth, I am sure that the servant who hid the talent would probably fare better than the one who squandered his and gave the master the loose change left over.
This I know is playing loosely with the scripture, but bear with me as I consider that I would rather be the one who buried his talent was cast out into outer darkness, where there was weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 25:30) I really don’t know what it feels like to be in outer darkness, except that it is usually associated with extreme cold and fear of what is coming to grab me and devour me. But the guy who gave Jesus the leftovers, the loose change…, what would God hold in store for such a man?
When the party is over, where will we go if we have wasted our legacy? The Master is coming and He will require an accounting. There are literally billions that don’t know anything about Him all around the globe. That is part of our mandate as the church.
If we don’t have a good answer, we could shout over the very loud music: “Here’s your change Lord!” I can add that to the margin of my Bible too.