In Jesus’ parable of the talents, or what the NIV calls “bags of gold” Jesus draws an analogy of God’s gifts given to his servants in and for the kingdom and its work, and the return that is expected as his “good and faithful servants.”
Unlike the other two, who each doubled what had been given to them, the third took the gold and hid it in the ground. I can well imagine myself as that person. When the master in the parable returned, he rejected the account the servant gave him. The servant told him that he knew the master was “a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed.” The master rebuked him as a wicked, lazy servant and confined him to outer darkness.
The main point I take away from that parable, aside from other important points is that how we see God is at least suggested as a factor in whether or not we can truly serve him. To see him as hard (“harsh” – NRSV, NLT) is essentially a failure to see God as good, yes as pure, unadulterated love. That is a basic struggle we are in, the failure to see God as he truly is, in and through his Son.
The cross tells the story of God’s love like nothing else can. God is perfect in love and his salvation is always accompanied by perfect judgment. Unlike us, his wrath and judgment come out of pure love. Ours is inevitably tainted by sin. So that it’s impossible for us to really see God as the Other than ourselves that he is. God in love in his Son took on himself the judgment we deserved, namely death. So that our sins could be forgiven once for all and so that we could receive eternal life.
That is in a way either the, or one of the major struggles we are in: to accept the real God as he is: for us and for the world in and through his Son. And to be a witness of that reality in our faith shown in our lives in word and deed. To see God as he truly is in and through Jesus. A good God who delights to give to us and through us to give to others.