Matthew 20:1-2 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire men to work in his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.”
There is something special about being chosen, even if it is being chosen for work. The men in the parable weren’t applying for the job. They didn’t submit a resume that bragged about their current skills or past accomplishments. The landowner came looking for them. He hired them without a lengthy interview process. He wanted them, whoever they were, just as they were, in his service.
That mirrors the process by which God came looking for us and chose us. We didn’t put in applications to become Christians. We weren’t selected because the Lord spent a long time looking at our qualifications, then determined that we would be a good fit for Christianity. Quite the opposite. We would have been happy to be anything but Christians.
Several years ago, Christianity Today magazine ran a series of articles featuring unlikely converts to our faith. There was the Muslim student from Saudi Arabia who could trace his family tree back to the prophet Mohammed himself. Now he finds his only comfort in Jesus and the Bible. There was a feminist lesbian professor who ended up marrying a pastor and raising a family with him. There was an avowed atheist, a liberal journalist, a lifelong Buddhist, an armed bank robber–none of them looking for Jesus when he came calling.
Jesus may have tapped on your shoulder much earlier in life than these, but we wouldn’t have been looking for him either. We were born in sin, outside of loving and serving God, like the rest. Still, he sought us through parent’s prayers, our pastors’ baptizing hands, a Sunday School teachers’ faithful Bible storytelling. He wanted us, whoever we were, just as we were, in his service. The very opportunity to serve God is all grace, all forgiving, undeserved love!
And the task, the work, the mission in which we serve is all privilege. Working in vineyards means working with living, growing things. Tender vines need to be nurtured and fed. There is a harvest of fruit to be gathered at the end. These pictures are similar to others Jesus and the Scriptures use for serving in the mission of the church. The application isn’t limited to pastors or missionaries. All of us have been called to service, to plant seeds, to nurture faith, to help God gather his harvest of souls.
Isn’t that an incredible privilege? Were there tasks around your house growing up that weren’t so much a chore as they were an honor, a sign that you had matured and your parents trusted you? When my dad first asked me to build a fire in the fireplace, I wasn’t disappointed about interrupting my play. I was thrilled. Hand me the matches!
When the God who rescued us from sin and death invites us to help him rescue other souls, what an honor! What an expression of trust! We have been given a privilege, a task that says we must be the objects of God’s undeserved love.