As most of you know, I am a sports fan. However, at the risk of offending some (ie, many) of you, I don't enjoy all sports. As I get older, I find it harder and harder to enjoy sports that don't seem to have a clear winner and loser. Gymnastics, figure skating, diving and other sports that are "judged" by humans just seem way too subjective. I find myself angry that the nice little Canadian girl got shafted by the Russian judge. Even College Football, my favorite sport by far, is starting to lose its allure for me, since they can't seem to figure out a way to crown a single, undisputed National Champion, and a small cadre of large schools with mammoth athletic budgets seem to wield all the power.
There is something in us that demands fairness. Ironically, that is often the same part of us that resists the biblical idea of grace. Philip Yancey wrote a column for Christianity Today many years ago entitled "The Atrocious Mathematics of the Gospel." He talked about how so many of Jesus' parables ended in ways that didn't add up...at least, according to our human reckoning. A perfect example is the parable we'll study next week, in Matthew 20:1-16. Yancey was thereafter assaulted with a barrage of angry letters to the editor. One called him blasphemous; another said his column was Satanic. Yancey's point--which obviously sailed far over the heads of many of his readers--was that grace seems unfair to us, except when we're the recipients.
This Sunday, we'll take a look at the requirements of grace as we examine the parable of the Unforgiving Servant in Matthew 18:23-35. What signs mark those who truly have received the saving grace of God? And how can we learn to do the mathematics of life according to God's standards?