There are certain stories people love to hate. One very strong candidate is a story Jesus told about workers in a vineyard. Do you know it? It is from Matthew 20:1-16. Jesus tells about a landowner who is hiring people to work in his vineyard. He goes out early in the morning and hires a bunch of people. But then he goes to the marketplace again every few hours. He keeps seeing people in need of work, and he keeps hiring them. Then at the end of the day he tells his manager to do something very strange. He pays the people who were hired last—who worked only one hour!—a day’s wage. He then pays the people who worked three hours (you guessed it!) a day’s wage. He works his way up to the people who worked all day—12 hours in the hot sun—a day’s wage. Maybe you can understand why they’re not happy. It’s not fair!
I want to ask you a question, and I invite your input. Feel free to post your response to this.
I was talking with a group of friends about this story, and the conversation took kind of a strange turn. They were thinking about this story in terms of becoming a Christian. Some people become Christians early in life, and serve “in the fields of the Lord,” for a lifetime. Others “hire on” late in life, and serve for just a short time.
Here’s what kind of bothered me. Some of my friends sounded a little bit like those workers who were paid last. They were grumbling. “It’s not fair!” they said. “Why not become a Christian near the end of life?! You’re ‘paid’ the same!”
Now I know we may well make sacrifices as Christians. Just like in the season of Lent, there are things we might “give up” in life because we are followers of Jesus. After all, he said, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24).
But here’s what I’m wondering, and here’s what I invite you to post your response to: How is your life DIFFERENT because you are a Christian? How is your life better? Or worse? What are you missing out on? Or what have you found that you are now NOT missing out on?
I’ll be thinking about this, too, and I’ll post some of my thoughts and your responses next week…