“And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go” Matthew 21:30 (ESV)
The American gospel has done an exceptional job of convincing us that God is for us. Now, before you get in a twist, I’m not referring to the fact that God loved us so much that He sent Jesus to die for us (John 3:16). I’m referring to the way the Jesus has been marketed such that God exists to serve us.
I’m certain that none of us would admit that this is how we believe. But if we really did a deep dive into our relationship with Jesus—our thoughts, our actions, the attitudes we carry throughout our days—our lives might tell a different story. Our churches, our music, our messages are all about us. We want to be comfortable; we want to feel good; and we want our gospel pleasant and easy to swallow.
It may not be our fault. It may be that something just clicked in us when we heard about the feel-good Jesus that needs us as much as we need Him, a Jesus that wants nothing more than our happiness. This Jesus set us free from the Law so that we could live in whatever manner achieved such happiness. This God isn’t concerned so much that we are holy. He looks past all of that and sees our hearts.
Ooops! We can’t have that….
In the 21st chapter of Matthew, Jesus tells a parable about two sons whose father had told them to go and work in the vineyard. One son, rebel that he was, told his father that he was not going to obey. He had a change of heart, however, and he went to work in the vineyard. The other son told his father that he would comply; his true colors shone through, however, and he did not obey.
Jesus told the parable as a rebuke to the religious leaders, who talked a good game, but their lifestyle didn’t follow through. He used “the tax collectors and the prostitutes” as examples because they bore “fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matthew 3:8, ESV).
The point of the parable has to do with obedience to the will of the father. The son who feigned obedience failed the test. The son who obeyed was the one who was justified.
It is true, of course, that we are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8). There is nothing we could ever do to earn our salvation. However, once we have been saved, we do works because we have been saved! We love the Father because of who He is, not because we want something from Him. We love Him because He loved us first (1 John 4:19).
We are to be like the first son in the parable. In his rebellion (his unredeemed state) he defied his father. But then something changed in him, and he wanted to be obedient to his father. The second son gave lip-service to his father. He had the appearance of being an obedient son, but the truth about him became apparent when his talk didn’t line up with his walk.
Perhaps we started like the first son, but have allowed our first love to wane (Revelation 2:4-5). We had zeal for God, but became distracted (Matthew 13:22). The cause of our distraction is irrelevant.
When did that change for you?
Isaiah 53:6 says, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way.” Let us take time this week to evaluate our walk. Let us search our hearts to ensure that our repentance bears fruit. Let us be resolute as we turn our hearts back to the only one who is worthy of our worship and our obedience.
As always, these are the musings of a mindful disciple. Blessings on your week!
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