In this week’s gospel reading, Jesus told an interesting little parable. He compared being a disciple with being a servant on a big estate. At the end of a hot day, the servant came in from working in the fields, and he did not expect the master of the estate to invite him to dinner. If anything, the servant must wait on the master during dinner, and then afterward have his own meal back at the servants’ quarters.
To Jesus’ audience, during an age when servants and slaves were common, the idea of a master dining with the servants, let alone waiting on the servants, was preposterous. Jesus said a master will not be grateful when the servant did what he was required to do, nor should the servant expect the master to be grateful toward him.
Jesus told this parable to teach us the kind of attitude Christians should have toward God. The Creator of the Universe is the master and we are mere servants. We should never expect God to fawn all over us or give us some special privilege simply because we did our duty. The creature does not demand respect from the Creator. We should understand the situation and be humble.
However, here is the amazing thing about Christianity: God is really not like the master described in this parable. He is not an arrogant plantation owner who barely even notices the servants. Instead, God treats us in preposterous fashion. He invites the lowly servants to dine with Him, and then He puts on an apron and serves them! Jesus was the perfect example of this at the Last Supper: He did the most menial task a servant could do: He washed the disciples’ feet.
Finally, and most amazing of all, our Heavenly Master offers the lowly servants the opportunity to be adopted into His family. If you know anything about old fashioned plantation life, being an offspring of the master is a whole lot better than being a servant or slave. “Moving into the big house on the hill!”
To put it in more contemporary terms, if God were a corporate CEO, He would invite the loading dock worker to join Him for dinner at his fancy country club, then let the worker take his new BMW, and finally, He would adopt that worker as his own son.
We have been saved by the grace of God, not by anything we have done. We don’t deserve it. But God loves us so much He offers the priceless gift of salvation. The lesson this week focuses on the proper attitude we should have. Just because we accept this undeserved gift through faith is not a reason for us to demand that God be grateful toward us.
Here’s the reality of our situation here on earth: We are doomed because of our sin. But our Creator offers us a way out. When we accept this priceless gift, should we then expect that God will be grateful toward us for doing so? Of course not. That’s ridiculous.
Instead, if we go about our duty as humble servants, expecting no special treatment or honor, we will find in the end that our master will invite us to dine with Him. He will bring us to His heavenly country club and give us His celestial BMW. This is yet another Christian paradox: when we do not expect special treatment, we in fact ultimately get special treatment. But if we arrogantly expect it in the first place, we will not receive it.
Our master, our Lord, our spiritual CEO, is not like any human we’ve ever met. He is out of this world. And gratitude and love should be our most overwhelming responses toward Him.