We love to build. Networking, careers, projects, buildings, families, putting up fences, redesigning our living spaces, customising “our” stuff. We are creative. We are artistic. We have souls that need feeding.
But we know what makes things work. We know how to get value for money. We are nobody’s fool and if someone thinks we are – they will get what’s coming to them! We might have “souls” – but we have brains and bodies as well.
Jesus said to his disciples, “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire labourers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the labourers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; and he said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went. When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same. And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, ‘Why are you standing here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard.’ When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the labourers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.’ When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” Matthew 20:1-16
Kingdom. Kingdom work. The kingdom of heaven. Kingdom the place. Kingdom the destination. Is becoming ever more and more uncomfortable for me. Places and things can be found on a map, can be measured and weighed, costed and budgeted. And this place of Kingdom is on every good Christian’s “bucket list” (for after we die).
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire labourers for his vineyard.”
In this parable I have always focused on “the place” of Kingdom: the vineyard. That is where the action takes place. And – yes – there is loads of stuff around the hiring and the payments and the people. But the “place of Kingdom” is sub-conscious and pervasive – and remains solid – with fences and boundaries. Sub-consciously “Kingdom the place” becomes something I can find on a map. And we know where we are with maps. We know where we are with a vineyard. But few of us will ever own one.
We are the workers, the hired hands. So what I do, what I am … doesn’t really matter. There is always someone else. What I am doesn’t really matter. There is always someone else.
Like the committee and council “landowners” I see and hear – their forthright opinions. I see hiring and firing (reluctantly – obviously). I see payments. I see “getting value for money”. I see “being no one’s fool”. I see laughter as a few £s here and few £s there are saved. I see asking without reservation for money to support a loved project. BUT always for “kingdom work” – after all we are all good Christians aren’t you?
Isn’t that “emotional blackmail” – or is that just me?
But how many would pay the same to someone doing five minutes as someone doing a full day’s work? I don’t see that. I don’t see that “relationship” with our Father in these budget meetings. I see value for money.
I have a lot of questions about “kingdom work” and what we have made it (and what we are “making each other” in the process). More and more I wonder how much we really “know” God – how much we each are sensitive to each unique opportunity – each perfect timing – that He brings to EACH of us – EVERY minute – of EVERY day (and – more and more – how much we even want to “know”).
So more and more I like less the “place of Kingdom” (and “work”). And more and more I like a living relationship with my God Soft Hands Jesus.