Back from our Cancun vacation this week. Wife and I decided to try out a Mexican all-inclusive for once.
There won’t be a twice.
Oh, others love this idea and take the whole family. Open bars and buffets for everyone. Drink up and dig in. You may be among all those lovers out there. And we might have been, also, had we started in our 20’s instead of waiting til our 70’s. Now, it’s two Margaritas before dinner, try to stay awake through the entertainment after dinner, then ready for bed. And all this after that handy siesta following lunch at 2 p.m. when the sun gets warmer and the cabana gets softer.
Okay, you’ve figured me out to be a party-pooper who should have known better than to venture into an all-inclusive resort for a week, sight unseen, thinking it was any kind of good idea for us in the first place. Cut me some slack for noticing the TripAdvisor rarely publishes the 70 year old dudes that write to complain. Their other four and a half stars go to the crowd that still drinks and dances the night away. We old codgers keep those resorts from scoring a perfect rating!
But then I decide to read Matthew 20 in the Bible’s New Testament Gospels this morning.
And I see myself glaring right into the mirror of Jesus.
It’s when Jesus shared the one about God’s Kingdom resort. Spoiler alert: it’s all-inclusive.
Starts out with Jesus assuring those who come to work at the last hour they are entitled to the same wages the other laborers will get for working the whole day. That’s like charging the mostly lemonade drinkers like me the same bar-tab as those who put away that case of beer sometime between breakfast and black-out each day. So I’m the guy that starts to push back against this Jesus idea that God’s Kingdom is all-inclusive.
One size fits all. Really? How is that fair to me, the long-working lemonade guy?
Later on in this same chapter Jesus goes to even more trouble to assure the last that they will be first, and the first last. James and John, among the very first disciples called per Matthew 4, now get the same as those called last. Parable of the vineyard laborers (verses 1-16) plays out in real life (verses 20-28). Message is clear: “…..just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many” (MT 20:28).
Hola! That’s me needing this wake-up call. That’s me with James and John and the guys who arrived early to work the vineyards and expected better………than to subsidize that 485 lb. guy walking back from the buffet with his 8th plateful of food when all it took for me was two plates. Or to subsidize with my two drinks what has to be by now number 12 for that other guy.
Ouch! That’s me, Lord! The guy who complains to TripAdvisor about your all-inclusive Kingdom! That’s me who still lives in a westernized Christianity of zero-sum games where fear casts out love. The kind of fear that I’m not getting enough because someone else is taking too much, when in reality I’m getting all that I wanted in the first place (see Matthew 20:13). The kind of fear of neighbor that keeps me from love of neighbor. That renders me the same kind of judgmental Pharisee I’ve always tried saying I wasn’t.
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love” (I John 4:18).
Well, I’m a long ways from being ready for another Mexican all-inclusive resort vacation. An even longer journey away from reaching perfection in love. But at least now I feel I’m a bit nearer to the Kingdom. Near enough to see it really is a positive-sum. And really is God’s all-inclusive resort where the first make it possible for the last to afford it. And everyone gets what we’ve honestly wanted all along.