God is not fair. Did you know that?
Wait. What? Surely God is fair! Above all things, God is fair.
Not really. God is just. That is for certain. He is a God of justice. You can bank on that. Everyone will get what they deserve. Well… sort of.
But God is not fair. Jesus tells a parable to illustrate and, you can find it in Matthew 20:1-16.
You may already know it…
A wealthy landowner needs workers and he goes to the marketplace to find some. He hires a group in the morning and puts them to work, hiring them at a standard wage. He evidently discovers he needs more workers, and so he goes back to the marketplace and hires some more at midday. He even goes back near the end of the day and hires more workers. As the day ends and it’s time for everyone to be paid, the landowner pays everyone the same amount. Those hired at the emd of the day get paid the same amount as those hired when the day began. Of course the workers hired at the beginning of the day cry bloody murder at the owner’s unfair treatment. They thought they worked more and should be paid more. Sounds fair, right?
Jesus says this is how the Kingdom of God is! Grace is above all things, unfair. It is radical. It is offensive. It makes people angry.
I remember a friend of mine talking about her alcoholic father who mistreated her mother and was a horrible, absentee dad. She had a deep-seeded, seething anger that worked its way into other aspects of her life. She told me one day that she hoped her dad never got saved. She said it just wouldn’t be fair after all he did to her mom, her brother, and herself. He deserved Hell.
She’s right. He does. We all do.
Thank God we serve a God who is not fair.
“All the persons of faith I know are sinners, doubters, uneven performers. We are secure not because we are sure of ourselves but because we trust that God is sure of us.” — Eugene Peterson