Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Jesus tells a parable. “A man had two sons. He came to the first and said, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’ The son said in reply, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went.
The second son says, “Sure,” but probably has no intention of going. At any rate, he does not go to the vineyard, he does not do the work. His father must confront him with his selfishness, his lying and above all, his deviousness. I think immediately of Eddie Haskell. Swarmy, slick, hard to pin down, and smiling through it all. This boy can convince first himself and then anyone else of anything, and then do the opposite.
I’d rather be the pouty nay-sayer, looking bad at first but then in time turning. Both repentance and forgiveness are far more available for me this way than the other. But … it is so easy to just say OK. Society will not care if I mean it, as long as I don’t ruffle feathers.
This might not be such a big deal in the vineyard, or in polite society. But it’s a big deal when I’m weighing whether or not to level with God. Does he really want to know my nasty, negative, sicko self? Will he spend ugly moments with me as I indulge my favorite selfishness? When I cast a judgment, indulge a little gossip, choose not to be generous, allow my eyes to wander or my mind to settle into fantasies that keep me firmly in control – will Jesus wait with me? Will the Holy Spirit stop her filling, or will she be there too?
There are theologies galore to explain yes or no. I trust God’s presence in those darknesses, and I also know how dishonest I feel when I try to hide them from God. Psychologists usually call this not-so-nice part of me my “shadow” side. When I choose to minimize it, avoid facing it, pretend I’m better than I am, I am learning to lie. First to myself, then to God, then to everyone else.
Lord, I’m OK when you say I am. Not when I look good on the outside. Thanks, Jesus, for emphasizing this over and over in your teaching. And for inviting lots of pretty shady characters to the wedding banquet. I think I’d just as soon hang out with them as with anyone. We’re all pretty shady, after all. And you love us anyway.