This parable is often spoken of as the prophetic interpretation of the Jewish nation, Jesus’s coming, and the establishment of the church. I am sure too that it is that. But rather than pat ourselves on our back and say that we, the church, are doing a good job in comparison to the Jews, we need to be on our guard of doing the same. The original tenants were entrusted a task and given the season to accomplish it. Upon the set time to render due, they refused to acknowledge the owner and agreement made.
The church, too, has been entrusted a task and should be fruitful and produce. Each church should consider if they are fulfilling the mission that God has laid out or if they have instead beaten down and threatened others who do so on their behalf. Have they shunned people, hated or closed doors rather than embracing others with open arms regardless of differences?
But I like to look at things as they relate to us as individuals. As Christ-followers, we each have a mission, just as the Jews and the Church do.
Is your mission being the best lawyer, teacher, engineer, or housekeeper you can? Is it being the best mom or dad you can? Is it being the best Christian influence you can with your friends and family? None of these are any more noble than another, it is the calling that we have received from God and the one we must pursue. Our mission may seem to change over time, but I think the primary mission we all have is to spread the gospel and make disciples. It is the ‘who’ we disciple and the ‘how’ that likely changes over time, at work, school, church, when volunteering, in family.
We need to consider if we are tending that mission and being fruitful.
- We should think about the people that Christ has sent to us, to impact, change, or be a part of that mission. Have we welcomed them, or questioned their interactions and motivations?
- We should consider how we view our current responsibilities. Are we contentedly carrying them out or begrudgingly carrying them out? Are we even to be doing some them, do they add to the mission or take away?
Like the previous parable, the sons were sent to the vineyard to work, not the wine press. We have the mission and sub-missions that God gives us to fulfill. Are we being fruitful in them? Are we carrying them out, or ignoring them in favor of something else? Like the previous parable, we cannot truly determine the fruitfulness until the end. Patience.
It took little courage as a child and young adult to share that I was a Christian, because I grew up in a family of Christians and surrounded by a loving church family. It was as I became an adult that I floundered. It was years before I was courageous enough to talk to others about ‘going to church’ or introducing other keys to who I am.
When I lived in Sudan, one of the guards at our house would often say that I was very different, a very extraordinary woman. He was a strong Muslim who would often read the Koran to keep himself awake on duty. He knew that I attended church and we had conversations which acknowledged that we shared God, but not the prophets. I can only hope that the seeds of ‘being different’ take root. Funny enough, the differences that he noted were simple kindnesses, like offering holiday time and being understanding when someone was sick.
Maybe that example is not easy to relate to. This weekend, in a Grab (like Uber), a motorcyclist hit us while changing lanes. No one was hurt, thankfully. We were delayed as the formalities were exchanged between drivers, which is annoying. But it was the driver that made an impression. He was explaining and talking about the condition of the cyclist (drunk?) and seemed genuinely concerned that we would be upset by his driving, the delay and what else. Instead, my husband and I both said that these things happen, and it was not because he was driving badly. It just happened. His whole expression changed; he seemed so relieved that we were not angry or who knows what. We were understanding. (I even remember later thinking that we handled it maturely, not as I would have expected myself to do, with exasperation!)
Showing kindness and generosity makes a difference. For me, it is probably also patience that makes a difference! I am heartily encouraged to do the little things that make a difference in someone’s day. I’m sure it won’t take much. I think it is in being different that we can fulfill our mission and open the door to talking about Who makes us different: Jesus.
I am not a missionary sent overseas to convert and establish churches and such. I am just a gal who seeks to follow Jesus and show others that Jesus is the light of my life, and I hopefully do in small ways. The gifts and talents we have may lead us to become doctors, waiters and waitresses, teachers, accountants, stewards, or street sweepers. It is in each of those posts that we tend our own part of the vineyard and watch for the people that our master sends in our lives. The people are important. The result of our mission for God and the sub-missions he gives us will show in the end.