In prepping for this Sunday's sermon, I read and reread Matthew 20:1-16, often called the Laborers in the Vineyard.
It's a dumbfounding passage.
Dumbfounding because the logic inherent to what the Landowner is doing - paying everyone equal wages for different amounts and sorts of work - appears incredibly inane in our cultural context. More work or more skilled work means more pay.
But that is exactly the point of this parable. Indeed, it appears that God's ways are not our ways especially in this case.
fThe incredible reality about what God is up to hear is that our inclusion in the Kingdom, our award of Christ's Christ, has absolutely nothing to do with what we do. It matters not how much we work, or the quality of the work, but rather that we were chosen as laborers.
And God is a gracious landowner, for in this parable, God invites everyone who wants to work into the fields, even those who came incredibly late in the day. To the landowner, it mattered not when you began your service.
The radical equality of the Gospel is that we are included solely at the behest of God's grace. God's initiative is to welcome us into God's work and to offer us the same reward regardless of the work we've done. That reward is Christ.
But that sort of equality inspires fear in all sorts of people because it means that the privileged will lose their places of precedence, that those with authority will find a level playing field, that those with power will no longer rule.
This sort of equality is not only a gift, but a radical reordering of society. When we receive Christ, we receive Him only because God decided to bless us, and nothing else. That makes us all citizens of the kingdom, coworkers in the Gospel and equals in every conceivable in relation to our standing with God. Different personalities, different gifts, different servants, but equal in our truest identity: Jesus Christ.
Simultaneously a sinner and a saint.