2009-10-27 - Least Favorite Passages
My Least Favorite Passages Series, Part 1
With this devotional, we begin a series on "My Least-Favorite Passages." Even though we revere the Bible as Gods word, as well as our rule of faith and behavior, Im sure that most of us have studied passages in the Bible, which we would just as soon not be in there. For the person who likes to make CDs of copyrighted material, speed or cheat on his/her taxes, they might like to forget that Romans 13 is in the Bible. For the spouse who wants to trade in his/her partner for a younger/thinner/more glamorous model, the least-desired passages might be those that speak of adultery. If you would like to share your least-favorites, I would be interested in knowing what they are. I think we can learn from each other, and I hope that God will use this series to help us befriend some of the more difficult Bible passages, and perhaps to see them in a new light.
As for myself, a person who believes strongly in justice and equality, I have never cared for the story of the laborers who all earn the same wages, regardless of how much effort they have put into the work (and I know from family members and friends Im not alone in feeling this way.).
Matthew 20:13-15 (NASB) But he answered and said to one of them, 'Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius? 'Take what is yours and go, but I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own? Or is your eye envious because I am generous?
Im such a literalist, that to me, the crux of this parable had always been that lazy, uncaring people who did as little as possible to get by, would be rewarded for their behavior and thus encouraged to repeat it which would be unfair to those who did most of the work, fulfilled their commitments and provided for their families (not to mention being a disservice to the lazy workers themselves, who wouldn't mature if they continued in this vein). However, I have come to believe that the point of this story is not about justice or fairness, but rather about grace. The point is that when it comes to sin, none of us deserve Gods grace, whether we are as pure and devoted as Billy Graham - hardworking folks who are devoted to God, family and church or whether we are serial murderers who have committed unspeakably painful sins against others. A repentant heart can be forgiven, no matter whose or when.
And grace is not something any of us can earn; its an outright gift. As Paul reminds us in Ephesians 2:8-9 (NASB), For by grace you have been saved, and that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, not as a result of works, so that no man may boast.
Grace isnt about us; grace is about God's provision in Jesus. And that is the crux of the matter.