Have you heard?!
Discovery is regathering at Lincoln High School!
Are you excited, rattled, annoyed, or just simply indifferent? Me, I’m suuuper excited!!! You can tell by my heavy usage of exclamation points!!! Lincoln is my alma mater and being an Abe was my destiny. My grandpa attended Lincoln and graduated in 1935. In 1963 my dad graduated as an Abe and then in 2006 I had the honor of doing the same. My roots run deep in black and gold!
I love the opportunity that this brings, impacting this school, the neighborhood, our city, and hopefully much more. "Kingdom Work" is the phrase that comes to mind. This work can’t be neglected. It is critical, but just as Jesus said to His disciples, “the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers in His harvest field.” -Matthew 9: 37-38
This thought brings me to Jesus’ parable of “The Workers in the Vineyard” from Matthew 20:1-16.
In this parable, Jesus explains that we will understand the kingdom of heaven if we compare it to a landowner and his vineyard. Identical wages are promised and given to workers who have labored the entire day as to those who were hired toward the end of the day and labored much less. There were also workers hired between these times who in succession worked less and less of the day. When payment comes, it is first given to those who labored the fewest hours and then in succession to those who had labored more and more hours of the day. This ticked off the hard-days-work crew who thought not only should they receive their payment first but that they should also have an increase in what was promised to them because they had worked so much longer and in their opinion harder. The landowner disappoints however and reminds these workers that they were promised a fair day's wage and they received it. “If I want to give those who only worked for an hour equal pay, what does that matter to you? Don’t I have the right to do what I want with what is mine? Why should my generosity make you jealous of them?”
So how does this tell us about the Kingdom? In Jesus’ time, the workers late to the labor were likely the Gentiles while those who labored all day were the Israelites. Many Israelite followers did not believe that the gentile Christians were worthy of salvation. To the Israelites, they were the chosen people of God and had toiled under hardship for many hundreds of years. The Gentiles did not know of this suffering.
Now, how does this apply to us today, to our city, to our church, and to me as an individual?
When the crop is ready to come in it must be done quickly before the rain comes or the harvest will be ruined. That's Harvesting 101. Even a worker only able to work in the last hour of the day is valuable to the landowner (GOD). God’s work is rich and full of meaning. The sooner we can partake in it, the better for our lives and those who will be impacted by our service. In the end, God will pay us all fairly for the service that they have given. God’s manner of distributing reward is not necessarily the manner of men (many who are the first will be last, and the last first, as it says in Matthew 19:30). Remember that God has a huge work for us to do… the labor is plentiful but the workers are few.
If I consider myself a worker who has been hired, I would say that I have been hired midday and have not worked from the beginning. What is my honest reaction to those who have been in labor for far longer (all-day workers) and those who find His work much later in life (the one-hour workers)? Am I jaded by the equal gift of eternity that they will receive? Truthfully I am not. I, too, marvel at the LORD’S grace and mercy to allow me to be a part of His harvest. It is an honor to serve Him and I welcome all idle workers to join before the time of harvest has come to an end, when Jesus comes again. I feel that every day I am allowed to labor for the LORD my life becomes more rich and meaningful. I believe that those who come to work for Him later in their lives are missing the richness He has for their lives.
I count myself blessed to labor for Him as long as I may.
Why is how we live as Christians important to our neighbors? Our lives are on display to those around us and we have the power to show the love of Christ or to live in sin as the rest of the world does. Our distinct differences will be so contrary to the world around us that our joy and life of worship will shine through us and appeal to those around us. We work as GOD’S laborers to bless and honor Him, and to inspire those around us to leave idleness and begin their own work for the LORD. No other work is as fulfilling.
What is Jesus calling us to in regards to this city? How are we encouraged to engage with the people of Tacoma? We are on assignment to LOVE our GOD and our neighbors. The greatest way we can do this is by introducing them to Jesus and the Kingdom of GOD. This is the great commission, to go out and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to (as it says in Matthew 28:19-20a) “…go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”
As the landowner goes into the city to search for more workers we too need to bring the idle workers to Jesus. He will pay them a generous wage!
How important is it that they actually come to Discovery or any specific church at all? The Church is where the body of Christ comes together to encourage and support one another. Alone we are susceptible to the enemy’s lies and can fall into sin's trap without anyone noticing but the church has the power to create accountability within that community.
“For you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night…Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord, and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.”
1 Thessalonians 5:2, 12-14 NIV