Dudley Hilton

Responsibility – that’s something of an underused word these days. Everyone seems fixated on rights – human rights, rights of ethnic minorities, women’s rights, consumers’ rights and so on. None of which is wrong of itself; it’s just that in wider society the concept of responsibility seems to have become marginalised, subordinated totally to the demand for individual rights to be recognised above all else. 

Last week we looked at the freedom that comes from turning to Christ and recognising and accepting the truth that God loves each one of us, and that nothing can ever change that.  Paradoxically (or so it seems; in reality it is not at all paradoxical!), as we become more aware of this freedom, so we become more aware of the responsibility that comes with it.

And it is quite a responsibility, as today’s passages make clear. The parable of the talents in Matthew’s gospel talks of our responsibility to use the gifts we have been entrusted with well, and not hide them in the ground. In it the “good and faithful servant” is contrasted with the “wicked, lazy servant”. The Corinthians passage talks of being “responsible to God” and “remaining in the situation in which God has called you.”

Challenging stuff – which, to paraphrase John F. Kennedy’s challenge to the USA in his 1961 Inaugural Address, might be summed up as “Ask not what God can do for you – ask what you can do for God”. Challenging, yes – but paradoxically (or not!) also strangely liberating...