Working in the Vineyard

At church this morning, the pastor preached about Matthew 21:28-32, in which Jesus tells the story of two sons.  The father told one son to work in the vineyard, and the son said no but later changed his mind and did what his father asked. The father then told another son to work in the vineyard, this son said that he would, and the son then went on and did not do what his father told him.  Jesus compared the first son to the tax collectors and prostitutes who repented at the righteous preaching of John the Baptist, and the second son to the religious leaders who gave lip service to God but did not repent.

The pastor was saying that we should not merely honor God with our lips, wear Christian T-shirts (I was wearing a WWJD shirt underneath my shirt!), and put a fish sign on the back of our car.  We should also work in the vineyard.  As examples, the pastor mentioned listening compassionately to people’s problems or taking a sick woman to the doctor because she is afraid of being alone.  The pastor said that the world wants to see authentic Christianity, people who do not just talk the talk but also walk the walk.

Whether or how I will apply any of this, I do not know.  I do get a bit tired of writing posts in which I try to justify the level at which I live or don’t live a loving, Christian life.  By now, I just count on the fact that I will hear comforting sermons, and I will hear sermons that make me walk out of the church service wondering if I am doing enough.  Sometimes, I am so tired and dead inside that I do not care if I am doing enough.  Working in the vineyard?  Maybe I get tired of listening to people’s problems, especially when I cannot do anything about them.  Maybe I would prefer to stay home and read all day rather than go out and serve people.

But I do agree that the Christian life should be about more than talk.  If it is just talk, then what exactly is the point?  Somewhere along the way, one should live according to what one professes to believe.  If one believes in a loving God, one should place faith in that God.  If one sees others as people of value, one should treat them that way.

Which son am I?  Well, would it be all right with the father if one of the sons just said that he did not want to go work in the vineyard, and let that be that?

Somebody has to work in the vineyard, though.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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