The other day my two and a half year old son made a gigantic mess with flour. It wasn’t entirely his fault. He’s two, what did I expect? We had gotten out some flour for him to make homemade play-do with, but didn’t move fast enough and he started spreading the flour all over the table and floor and chair and himself. I tried my hardest to be cool and play it off as no big deal, but I failed when he started grinding the flour into the chair cushion with his tennis shoes.
After I calmed down a bit, I got reflecting on the kind of children I want to raise. Of course I want them to be well behaved and cleanly. I desire for them to follow directions and be obedient. I also want them to have spirit and joy and fortitude and little twinkle of mischief. I want to raise kids who have gumption.
I think God wants this in his children too. In the gospel this Sunday Jesus tells a parable about a master who has three servants. With each servant, the master leaves a large amount of money and then he goes on a long trip. When he returns he asks each servant to tell him how much money they earned with the wealth that he had given them. The first and second servants doubled their money, but the third servant says he was fearful of the master and so he hid the money and didn’t earn anything additional. At the end of the parable the master calls the third servant useless and throws out into the darkness.
The masters calls this third servant wicked, but in the end this servant is wicked because he is useless.
Open rebellion against God isn’t the only way deny God. Few of us do rebel against God on purpose. Most of us think we lead pretty good lives and don’t sin too badly. The reality is that rather than commit real evil, we often fail to do real good.
It’s not enough that we just avoid big sins. Following Jesus isn’t only about not doing the bad stuff. Following Jesus is about choosing to seek out the good stuff too. Jesus Christ made disciples who ended up being wild eyed radicals. Followers of Jesus have been intense and extreme and willing to do anything to follow Jesus for centuries. If you read the lives of the Saints you’ll see some wild stories and no shortage of gumption.
Some think that opposite of love is hate. It’s not. The opposite of love is apathy. Hate is passion in the opposite direction. Apathy is nothing. Apathy is lame and boring and useless. If following Jesus means loving God and loving neighbor then we better make sure we are apathetic toward God and neighbor.
If we are serious about following Jesus, then we should be serious about living lives of risk and adventure, lives full of love. We need to look forward to invest what God has given us. We shouldn’t wait for the perfect time to help or love. We should live with a little gumption. God help us if we are useless.
Live it: Read the lives of some Saints. See if you can find some gumption. If you are looking for a list of saints, try this one.