‘What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, “Son, go and work in the vineyard today.” He answered, “I will not”; but later he changed his mind and went. The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, “I go, sir”; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?’ They said, ‘The first.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, the tax-collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you.Matthew 21:28-31
By Jaimarie Nelson
I personally have a hard time being a Christian that proselytizes (attempting to convert (someone) from one religion, belief, or opinion to another). I just am not able to condemn someone else’s beliefs and force my own. I personally feel like my Christian work is to be an example or a reflection of Christ’s love and ultimate sacrifice by how I go about my daily interactions and in the service I give to others. This Christian work is a personal relationship with Christ that for me is not very loud or pushy but is about keeping my word to my faith. It might even be fraught with wrestling matches with angels that are personally moving me from an original “I will not” to actually going.
This passage, about the two sons that are asked to go work in the field, is a parable around the same theme. And it highlights that we always have a chance to change our ways, chart another course, or see the light. There are infinite chances. It reminds me of a conversation I had on more than one occasion with a friend/teacher/leader from the Golden United Methodist church, Cliff Pike. This well read, wise and often feisty Christian presented our class with the idea that there is a hell but it is EMPTY. How could this be? Well, Mr. Pike would explain that we all have free will and at the end of our mortal life we will be faced with the awesomeness of God. From the parable this is the offer to go work in the vineyard, the choice to join God and all that he is. The argument is that when you are faced with the unexplainable, unfathomable, mightiness of God and his grace and mercy, even at the last opportunity– no one would NOT choose God. Therefore, the kingdom is open to ALL of us ALWAYS and hell may really be empty. Who knows? But this intriguing theology helps me to focus back on my personal relationship with God and keeps me from the worry of the right or wrongness of someone else’s beliefs. I find I don’t need to save them, because that door is always open. I just need to organize my life so that I’m heading to “work in the vineyard.” I mean– how bad would it be for your relationship to not keep your word?