Parable of the Two Sons:
“But what do you think about this? A man with two sons told the older boy, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’ The son answered, ‘No, I won’t go,’ but later he changed his mind and went anyway. Then the father told the other son, ‘You go,’ and he said, ‘Yes, sir, I will.’ But he didn’t go.
“Which of the two obeyed his father?”
They replied, “The first.”
Then Jesus explained his meaning: “I tell you the truth, corrupt tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the Kingdom of God before you do. For John the Baptist came and showed you the right way to live, but you didn’t believe him, while tax collectors and prostitutes did. And even when you saw this happening, you refused to believe him and repent of your sins. Matthew 28:28-31
This is a powerful parable and if you are honest with yourself (and had siblings) how many of you were like, “Yup that second slacker would have been my brother or sister!” or if you didn’t have either, you can quickly point your finger at a coworker? Jesus was here specifically rebuking the religious leaders of his day for giving lip service to their relationship with God the Father while those who had said, “No!” for so long were stirred into spiritual action and healthy relationship with God through John the Baptist’s inspired preaching on repentance and right living.
Rather than leave this in context as we smugly condemn someone else I offer us an option for contemplation. If Jesus was willing to expand his audience (which I think the cross allows us) there are in this world…two more children!
We know of two from Jesus’ teaching but if we get past our judgment of who plays the original two sons it doesn’t take long in deeper contemplation to understand two more:
- There will be a child of the Father who simply says, “NO! I won’t go! I won’t enter into an obedient life of service to you!” and they never do.
- There will be a child who says, “Absolutely I will go!” and they ALWAYS do!
[We could also add a “Rich Young Ruler” sibling who earnestly desires to enjoy the blessed relationship with the Father but sees the row to work too long in the vineyard and severs his ties – but we won’t today]
Which of those four children trouble you the most?
The first “child” – if you know one – makes you want to pound your head against the wall because it doesn’t take long for you to see how empty, hopeless, and futile their lives are and I am NOT talking about material poverty – as the most joyous people I know have less than most! Agathe and I were invited (once) to a gathering of wine and cheese consuming couples in a beautiful home and as I don’t drink I ended up at the bottom of the funnel for their voiced disappointments in life. It was quite sobering. My wife and I eventually returned to our 900 square foot home feeling blessed beyond measure. These couples weren’t active in a church family or real obedient relationship with God. They had LOTS of very little, while true blessings were a simple response to the Father of, “I have changed my mind and heart! I AM your child! I WILL go!”
How should we deal with them? Keep hammering them with LOVE and leave the real forging of their soul to God’s Holy Spirit!
“If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost?” Matthew 28:12
It is NOT our job to convince them to become “religious”. It IS our commission to example every day what a blessed life of doing as the Father asks looks like!
The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise [of returning], as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. 2 Peter 3:9
If we have lived in this world for some time we probably know that type of spiritually obstinate person – hold fast in your prayers though because when they turn they can be some of the most zealous practitioners of faith you will ever meet which brings us to the kind of God’s children who disturb me even more than the ones who deny God…I am talking about the “Enochs” who walk stride for stride in REAL daily company with God himself and even when it’s knee deep… …mud… …they are singing a happy song!! Like Job they never deny God in the midst of DIRE trial and just keep their eye on the prize EVERY moment of EVERY day!! They just keep throwing up their hands like Horshack in “Welcome Back Kotter” shouting, “Oh, oh Father call on me!! I’ll go!!” except they don’t need to because as soon as they see a “God void” they have rushed in to fill it!!
Frankly, they drive me a little nuts – because I long to be like them!
“God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him,
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
God blesses those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
God blesses those who are humble,
for they will inherit the whole earth.
God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice,
for they will be satisfied.
God blesses those who are merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
God blesses those whose hearts are pure,
for they will see God.
God blesses those who work for peace,
for they will be called the children of God.
God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right,
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. Matthew 5:3-10
These blessed children of God don’t pick one of these aspects to concentrate on as they live them as their circumstances warrant!! AMAZING!! I know one or two such people and it is a POWERFUL reflection of Christ and a bright shining light of what has CONSUMED them HOLY!!
Which child of the four are you?
We all have transitional “seasons” in our life as regards our relationship with our heavenly Father.
We can transition from the rebellious denier, to the aware but unwilling laborer, to the initially begrudged but eventually blessed worker, and finally into the fired up “anywhere anytime – you don’t even need to ask me!” always accurate in discernment, golden child. But… we probably drift like the seasonal worker between the last three. We have mountain top experiences where nothing impedes our joyous connection with our heavenly Father and then there are times when are like, “Well, okay… I will go,” and then we never rise up off our spiritual couch!
What helps keep my relationship a linear progression of improvement with God the Father?
Whatever befalls us we must take stock and count our blessings! I can’t guarantee you an overnight transformation into one of those incredibly active workers for the Lord…but it will open the gate to the vineyard daily!
Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth! Worship the Lord with gladness.
Come before him, singing with joy.
Acknowledge that the Lord is God!
He made us, and we are his.
We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
go into his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good.
His unfailing love continues forever,
and his faithfulness continues to each generation. Psalm 100