Saturday, November 10, 2007

Kingdom Equality / Ridin' the Pine

Kingdom Equality
We are going through the Gospel of Matthew in our Sunday School at a rapid pace--11 weeks and we're already at the "triumphal entry", the week of Jesus' death. This Sunday, we're focusing on chapter 20, verses 1-16. In this section, Jesus tells the parable of a landowner that hired many laborers to work in his vineyard. He hired some early in the morning, some at midday, and still some only an hour before the workday ended. At the end of the day, he had the foreman pay the workers, beginning with those hired last...and the astonishing thing was: HE PAID THEM ALL THE SAME WAGE! Whether they worked a full 12-hour day or one hour, each man received the same pay.

The workers that had put in a full day didn't think this was fair.

"These last men have worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the scorching heat of the day." But [the landowner] answered and said to one of them, "Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what is yours and go, but I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own? Or is your eye envious because I am generous ?"

We're like the all-day workers sometimes. We get it in our heads that because we've been serving in the church longer or have been a Christian longer than others, somehow God owes us more. We forget that God doesn't think or operate the way we think He should (Isaiah 55:8). We fail to remember that EVERY person who comes to faith in Jesus Christ recieves the same salvation. An individual's "tenure" is irrelevant for receiving God's grace/salvation. John MacArthur put it this way:

Believing tax collectors, prostitutes, criminals and social outcasts will have the same heavenly residence as Paul, Augustine, Luther and Wesley. There are no servants quarters or lower class neighborhoods in heaven. Everyone will have a room in the Father's house, specially prepared for him by the Son. (MacArthur Commentary, Pg 215)

Some things to remember (from MacArthur's Commentary):

  • God and God alone accomplishes salvation. He does the seeking after the laborers.
  • Salvation is on God's terms. The laborers don't negotiate their wage.
  • God continues to call men to His kingdom (labor).
  • God redeems everyone who is willing...even those who come late.
  • Everyone who came to the vineyard worked.
  • All who wanted to work were hired and at the end of the day, there was no shortage of funds to pay each one the full amount. (God's resources never run out).
  • God always gives more than is deserved.

Ridin' the Pine
My youngest son mows his grandparents yard on Saturdays. Most weekends, I'll get up and drive him to their home (they still live in the town where my wife and I grew up--about 8 miles from where we now live). I drop him off and go on about my Saturday; my oldest son or my wife picks him up when he is finished. Today was the last mowing day, so I dropped him off--and having nothing else to do--I drove around town taking pictures.

I ended up at the City Park, in particular, the ballfield where I played Little League baseball. A lot has changed in 40+ years. They've rebuilt the dugouts, put concrete where there used to be grass behind the backstop and replaced the old wooden bleachers with metal ones. But it's the same field.

I wasn't that good, but I loved the game; I loved wearing the uniform; I loved the smell of the freshly mowed outfield and the raked dirt infield. I sat on the bench (rode the pine) more than I played, but I loved being part of the team. I loved it when we won and we'd pile in the back of one of the dad's pickups (that was before bike helmets, shin guards, knee pads, child seats, etc.) and we'd chant--all the way to the "Cardinal Dairy Dip"--at the TOP of our lungs: "We won by golly, we won!!!"

You can't beat the memory of Little League baseball.


Baxter said...

Love those "memory lane" stories! hhmmmm

Baxter said...

btw, I liked the no "tenure" comment. That always seemed a little ridiculous in this world anyway. I heard that even if an employee was lousie, his "tenure" kept him from loosing his job. phfft