“Calvin and Hobbes” is about a five-year-old named Calvin and his stuffed tiger, who in Calvin's vivid imagination, is an actual living playmate for his many adventures. They play a game called Calvinball. There is no game as unorganized as Calvinball. The only rule that stays the same is that Calvinball is never played the same way twice. The other rules are made up as they go along. Calvinball has hints of baseball, football, soccer, croquet and tag. 30-yard wickets, 423 outs, safety zones, 23 bases and on and on. When Calvin finds himself in a bind, he shouts out "New rule!" and makes up some absurd rule like, "From now on, we have to hop on one foot with one eye closed." Hobbes always protests, saying, "Not fair! Not fair!" but Calvin responds, "Hey, it's Calvinball. It's not meant to be fair."
We know when we're being treated unfairly at work, at school, or when playing a game. The concepts of justice, fairness and our own inalienable rights are fiercely protected and defended. But in the spiritual realm, justice, fairness and rights are viewed differently because God's grace is at work. Imagine saying to God, "Hey, you can't treat everyone the same when it comes to grace and forgiveness. That’s not fair. It's not right."
This coming Sunday’s parable of the workers in the vineyard smacks our earthbound notions of fairness in the face and opens our hearts and minds to see to how long and wide and high and deep is the love and grace of God. Those who worked the shortest time (the last hour of the day) received the same as those who worked all day. All received the same pay. The all-day workers grumbled that they deserved more.
Jesus makes the parable about grace. The landowner (God) has the right to do what he wants with his money, in this case, his generous grace. And he distributes it freely, whether you’ve been a believer since infant baptism or you’ve only recently come to faith.
You know the world's view on how people “get saved”: You can't get something for nothing. There's no such thing as a free lunch, let alone free salvation. There's always a catch, some fine print somewhere. If you want something, you have to work for it, you have to earn it. It's not logical to expect that something like eternal life, which is worth so much, could be given absolutely free.
Rejoice that God doesn’t treat us as we deserve! Thrill to the fact that God doesn’t give us what we deserve thanks to our sinful nature and our insurmountable debt of sins in thought, word, and deed! Not that we go ahead and make our own rules, like Calvin in Calvinball.
“Come, let us sing joyfully to the Lord. Let us give a loud shout to the Rock who saves us.
Let us approach his presence with thanksgiving. With music we will shout to him.
For the Lord is the great God and the great King above all gods.” (Psalm 95:1-3)
Grateful with you for God’s “unfair” grace!
Pastor Stephen Luchterhand