Blog & Pastor Letters

Salvation and God’s Impartiality

09-22-2019Weekly ReflectionRev. Victor C. Yakubu

The parable of the vineyard is a call by Jesus to all Christians to reflect about God's immeasurable love. In the parable there is an indication of partiality by the landowner because he paid all the laborers a fair daily wage. Anybody in his right senses would grumble after working lengthy hours of the day only to receive the same amount with another who worked less hours. From the viewpoint of the early laborers, the blame is on the landowner for not differentiating their wages with the latecomers. As for those who arrived late, they have nothing to lose because the landowner showed his generosity and paid them an equal daily wage.

This parable by Jesus opens our understanding of God's invitation to both the sinner and the saint to come into his kingdom. From our viewpoint as people who struggle to obey God's commandment, we may perceive the sinner as unsuitable to be saved. Often times, we base salvation on our commitment to religious duties, and in the process, we condemn those who are not in sync with what we do. But before God, the door is open for both the saint and the sinner to come in based on the generosity of God.

Listen to what the landowner told the disgruntled early worker, "My friend, I am not cheating you. Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what is yours and go. What if I wish to give this last one the same as you? Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money? Are you envious because I am generous?" If you were to be that disgruntled early worker, you would have no ability to stop the landowner from exercising power over his wealth. He chose to be kind and generous to the workers he hired from the morning hours until the close of the day. This attitude of the landowner suggests to us that he is indeed fair, just, and kind.

In ancient times, the prophets represented God in the messages they delivered. They prodded the minds of listeners to judge themselves either as woeful sinners or as righteous followers of God's commandments. All the prophets did a good job of relating what God commanded without diluting the essence of their call to convert the sinner and admonish the righteous. While it is true to admit that not all the prophets found satisfaction in their call, it is also right to admit that they kept faith by commanding the listeners to change or die in shame. Prophet Isaiah says, "Seek the Lord while he may be found, call him while he is near. Let the scoundrel forsake his way, and the wicked his thoughts; let him turn to the Lord for mercy." The work of Prophet Isaiah was undertaken centuries before the public ministry of Jesus. But the central point of the message of both Isaiah and Jesus relate to God's love for both the sinner and the saint.

Today in our world, we need conversion from godlessness to righteousness. The general feeling among people is that something is missing about our relationships. The lack of consideration for others opens a world of suspicious behaviors that further expands the divide. Due to the exclusive nature of our relationships, we build barriers to protect our side and demonize the other. God does not condone that exclusive attitude.

With God the divisions collapse into nothingness. God wants all people to embrace his call to salvation through his only begotten son Jesus Christ. God knew that humankind is weak due to sin and selfishness, so he bridged that gap with the coming of the Messiah. St. Paul preached Jesus Christ to the Jews and gentiles in order to reconcile them to God's kingdom without condemning the other as unsuitable. St. Paul gave his life to missionary work because he knew deep within his soul that God called him to reconcile the Jew and gentile as equal beneficiaries of God's love. St. Paul says to Philemon, "I long to depart this life and be with Christ, for that is far better. Yet that I remain in the flesh is more necessary for your benefit." From this point of view, Paul knew that whether in life or in death, Christ reigned supreme in the life of the Christian who responded to God's invitation.

The message this Sunday is a reminder to consider God's invitation to his Kingdom. In this invitation, both the early arrivals and the latecomers are treated equally: Jew or gentile, slave or freeborn. However, we must not take God's generosity for granted and waste our time chasing after shadows. The consequence of sin is death for those sinners who refuse to embrace the mercy of God and change their lives while there is time. Every individual is given equal opportunity to reflect about their lives and determine whether they are obeying God's commandments or breaking them. Both the sinner and the righteous follower are invited to benefit from God's kindness by confessing their weaknesses and asking for God's pardon. Those who respond to God's call will receive 'a fair daily wage' of forgiveness and blissful living in a kingdom that is without end. Do you think God is partial? Keep praying!