Richard Rohr “’Jesus’ ministry is not to gather the so-called good into a private country club, but to reach out to those on the edge and on the bottom—to tell those who are ‘last’ that they might just be first.”
“Who remembers our favorite story of the employer giving unfair wages?” I ask the Native youth group. Several of the leadership team volunteers the Biblical story. We have a mixed group of young ones and young adults.
“There was this dude who was hiring men,” starts out one of the young adults. “He offers to pay something like $100 to get a job done in his yard. So a lot of men started work at 8 am and worked all day. At 4 pm in the afternoon, a couple of dudes came to work for one hour only. The employer paid them all $100, even the ones who only worked an hour. How was that fair?”
The kids who have not heard this story protest. “This is not fair.” “It is totally messed up.” “What kind of lesson is that?”
Gloating, the leadership team gives them hints. “This is Jesus talking and he is trying to teach us something,” says one.
When that just gets frustrated grunts from the youth, another young adult says “He is not talking about money. What is he talking about?” They work hard at trying to figure out what would be fair. Fists on table and wrinkled eyes greet the leaders.
“Okay,” one leader says. “It’s not about fair.” More guesses were made but it still didn’t make sense.
Finally one leader shouts, “It’s not about deserving the money or whatever it is.”
“Oh,” yells a teen. “It’s about that grace thing that we get in spite of what we do.” Relief erupts around the table. “So, tell us what this story means,” someone says.
They work it out. A 15 year old says “Let’s say that you have been helping the street people and going to church and being generous to people your whole life and you feel good about it. Then someone who messes up hard core finally gets it, even if he has not been a good person all his life. He gets to start over the same as the lifetime good guy and is just as loved even though he has wasted most of his life.”
“That’s it!” cries the leadership team. “So what does that mean how you treat people?” asks a leader.
One of the teens answer, “S…t, that means that we can’t look down on street people when we give them food or clothes because they get the same chance we get even if we do feel superior because we are not homeless.”
Another youth quips “Grace is an equal opportunity law.” We talk then how other names for grace like love, acceptance, approval, adoption, marked as holy, etc. That is the learning. No one ever gets more grace than anyone else. It is sort of humbling.