Yesterday, I wrote a long post on the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30). In it, I contested against the common interpretation of the parable, that is, that God has given to each person talents, abilities, opportunity, as he sees fit, and expects a return on his investment. I offered a way to understand the parable in its historical context, and its context within Matthew’s Gospel, and the contrast between Roman rule and the kingdom of heaven (or, how we experience God’s reign). In this shorter post, I want to go on to offer some observations on how we relate to God.
 You cannot earn God’s favour through what you do for God. You cannot earn your place in heaven by being a good person, or your years of service to the church or your neighbours. You cannot earn God’s favour because, in Jesus, God has already and freely given that favour.
 Moreover, you cannot lose God’s favour through failure to follow God’s commands or meet God’s expectations. Your place in heaven – that is, being in relationship with God, starting in this life and continuing beyond death – is not jeopardised by doing the wrong thing or by not doing the right thing. You cannot lose God’s favour because, through the death and resurrection of Jesus, God has triumphed over everything that has tried to separate us from that freely given favour.
 You can neither earn nor lose God’s favour. You can only live with, or without, an awareness of that favour. There are many people – those who would claim to believe in Jesus, as much as those who do not believe in God – who live their lives unaware of God’s favour, upon them and upon their neighbour, and this is the very definition of hell.