The workers in the vineyard

WisdomForLife

There is so much to learn from Jesus’ parable on the workers and the vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16).

(Audio version here)

The parable on the workers and the vineyard is considered one of the more difficult to interpret yet it reaches deeply into the human heart at a level that connects with all people. It exposes a common tendency to resent the blessings of others whom we think don’t deserve them (certainly not as much as we do!).

As with many of Jesus parables, he starts with the familiar and turns the story in unexpected and provocative directions. Jesus focused stories in ways that were intentionally disruptive to established cultural assumptions. He did this to expose prideful and self-righteous hearts. It reminds us that God is willing to allow disruptive events to get to the true condition of our hearts.

In this parable, Jesus is also explaining…

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When he thunders…

“When he thunders, the waters in the heavens roar; he makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth. He sends lightning with the rain and brings out the wind from his storehouses”— Jeremiah 10:13 (NIV)

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Does life feel difficult?

WisdomForLife

I have often felt like my life has been lived with the wind in my face.

Do you feel you’ve been called to a life of swimming upstream?

I am sure this feeling goes back to my early years, growing up as the oldest son in a family of 11 children. I am no stranger to the difficulties and struggles of life. 

I learned a lot about the challenges and trials of this life as I watched those I loved suffer and struggle to provide for our family.

I battled confusion at the seemingly endless setbacks experienced. Before I had maturity to process these experiences, I fought tendencies to resent the trials and to envy those who appeared to be without difficulty.

All of this forced me to grow up quickly. It also plunged me into deep questions about how suffering relates to God. To this day, I’ve found that…

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If we are faithless, He remains faithful

WisdomForLife

“If we disown him, he will also disown us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself” (II Timothy 2:12-13).

What is the difference between disowning Christ and being faithless?

The first is tragic because to disown Christ is followed by him disowning us. The second is encouraging because we sing with honesty, “Prone to wander Lord I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love.” Our missteps often disrupt faithful devotion to our Lord.

A stronger contrast

The first (“If we disown Him…”) seems to be a decisive and willful defiance. The second, (“if we are faithless”) seems more like a temporary weakness. When we feel plagued by doubts or unbelief, he remains faithful (πιστὸς). He does not abandon us, indeed, cannot abandon us because of our union with him — “for he cannot disown himself.”

The act of disowning Christ draws up the warning of…

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When evil does’t make sense

WisdomForLife

“Whenever we are confronted with something utterly and dreadfully evil, appallingly wicked, or just plain tragic, we should resist the temptation that is wrapped up in the cry, ‘Where’s the sense in that?’

It’s not that we get no answer. We get silence. And that silence is the answer to our question. There is no sense. And that is a good thing too.”

“This may seem a lame response to evil. Are we merely to gag our questions, accept that it’s a mystery, and shut up? 

Surely we do far more.

We grieve. We weep. We lament. We protest. We scream in pain and anger.

We cry out, ‘How long must this kind of thing go on?’”

“As both rational and moral beings, made in the image of God, we want things to make sense. We have an innate drive, an insatiable desire, and almost infinite ability to organize…

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The best way to understand the world

WisdomForLife

I believe a Christian worldview offers the most logically consistent and plausibly realistic understanding of life.

The Christian worldview does the best job explaining the world we encounter each day. And it offers the best explanatory frame for the most extensive range of evidence in the world and in the human spirit. 

It speaks in deeply satisfying ways to shared human intuitions about meaningful and hopeful existence and specifically addresses universal human needs regarding matters like love, forgiveness and peace.

After years of extensive research, I cannot find an alternative worldview that corresponds with reality as comprehensively as what I find in Christianity. 

This doesn’t mean that I find everything easy to understand and explain because of Christianity. Life is painfully complicated and parts of the Bible are difficult to comprehend. Some biblical passages are written in cryptic prose; others are hard to comprehend on an emotional level. Some of…

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Do we really need the “Do not….” commands?

WisdomForLife

There’s a list of laws in the Old Testament regulating matters of justice and mercy that are sadly necessary wherever humans live together.

The very existence of such laws tells us something important about humanity.

When you consider what I am suggesting, ask what it says about us that such laws are necessary.

I realize that the laws listed below were given to guide a particular group of God’s people and (as with the rest of Old Testament law) should not be applied as binding upon all people at all times.

Yet reasonable people will agree that the concerns addressed in the laws are necessary for protecting civil community for all people.

My interest here is why humans need to be told not to do these things. Are we that bad or potentially bad to need such laws?

Laws regulating justice and mercy

  • “Do not spread false reports. Do not help…

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