Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Matthew 20

Continuing the theme that the values and expectations in the Kingdom of the Heavens will be different than the values of the world at large, Jesus addresses both fairness and leadership. The parable of the workers in the vineyard is a reminder to those who would say they have "earned something" because of their longevity in the vineyard that the only reason they work the vineyard and are compensated for the work is the grace and largesse of the vineyard owner. We who are Christ followers must avoid the very dangerous trap of assuming that because we have been Christ followers for a longer time than others that somehow this makes us "more important" or "holier" or somehow "closer to God" than other people. There is a conversation to be had about spiritual maturity which can only come with experience, but one hallmark of spiritual maturity would be humility and a willingness to make room for others. Being "closer to God" or "further away from God" is only from a human perspective. God is just as close to me as God is to every other human being on the planet. When I turn and begin to live into that closeness my perception changes and I become aware of what was already there.

The request of the Mother of James and John (20-28) is the subject of this Sunday's message at Christ Church, Amherst, New York. Leadership is not controlling others. Leadership is not "forcing my will and opinion on others". Leadership, from the Christian perspective, is not "lording it over others." Leadership is servanthood at its finest. That is to say, the leader's primary responsibility is the health and development of the group. This understanding, to say the least, is radically different from what is usually presented as leadership in our schools, workplaces, and government and, sadly, in our churches.

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