Most everyone reading this post knows what it means to have a job. In a job, you work a defined task and are paid for your efforts. Often this payment is attached to an hourly wage (my first job working the Hawaiian Shave Ice Hut paid $3.50 per hour), or to the accomplishment of a project, regardless the length of time ($20 to mow the lawn . . . or 5% commission on the sale). This system fuels our economy and funds our lives.
Given this system, we have come to understand the correlation between our work and our reward . . . and this system dictates a lot of how we think. In a noble sense, we want to “earn our own way” . . . seeing a wage earned as better than a gift given, as it teaches us responsibility and hard work.
This mentality that we learned in the workforce is often imported into our spiritual lives. We think of our religious involvement and good works as our “work” and the “wage” is eternal life. If we do enough good things and attend enough church activities, then God must give us eternity. This was the mentality of the rich young ruler (Matthew 19:16-30) that we looked at last Sunday at Wildwood in our sermon. Jesus challenges the thinking of the man by demonstrating that his wage is actually death, not life, because he had not perfectly kept the letter AND SPIRIT of the entire Law. The disciples (who no doubt thought the rich young ruler was AT least their moral equal if not superior) said, “If that dude can’t be saved . . . WHO CAN?” Jesus responded by letting them know that eternal life is not something we can earn. Our only hope is for God to do FOR US what we are INCAPABLE of doing on our own. In short . . . the wage we deserve is death . . . but by God’s grace, the gift He gives is eternal life (Romans 6:23).
After making that point, Peter wants to talk about the wage he thinks he is due because he has followed Jesus. Jesus affirms to Peter that the blessing indeed is his . . . BUT that he may one day be surprised to find out that the same blessing Peter has will be extended to BILLIONS MORE. To drive that point home, Jesus tells a story in Matthew 20:1-16 about the gracious blessing He gives to His people. This Sunday at Wildwood we are going to look at that story in part 7 of our “Relating to _____” series as we look at “Relating to Blessing.”
Make plans to join us, and bring friends . . . this is a message for all of us . . . in our 9:45 and 11:00 services. We will also spend time lifting up the name of Jesus in song, and celebrating the Lord’s Supper together. See you Sunday, February 17 at Wildwood Community Church!