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This week is the second our new series entitled "It's not fair."  At a time when we are facing all kinds of issues that seem to be unfair, it gives us a chance to look at some of the wisdom that can be found in different religious traditions and worldviews.  The second story comes from the Christian tradition and looks at the concept of equality.

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It's not Fair! - Christian
There are many stories in the Bible that challenge how people view the world. The way that Jesus taught, often pushed people to think about assumptions they had and he often used stories to explain new ways of seeing the world.
This story is one that Jesus told his disciples and comes from the book of Matthew in the New Testament section of the Bible. It is known as a parable which is a story with a hidden meaning. The story demonstrates that God wants to provide for us, irrespective of what we have done to deserve it. This is known as grace. The Kingdom of heaven is used here to describe the way God intends the world to be.

The Workers in the Vineyard

The Kingdom of heaven is like this. Once there was a man who went out early in the morning to hire some men to work in his vineyard. He agreed to pay them the regular wage, a silver coin a day, and sent them to work in his vineyard. He went out again to the marketplace at nine o'clock and saw some men standing there doing nothing, so he told them, “You also go and work in the vineyard, and I will pay you a fair wage.” So, they went.
Then at twelve o'clock and again at three o'clock he did the same thing. It was nearly five o'clock when he went to the marketplace and saw some other men still standing there. “Why are you wasting the whole day here doing nothing?” he asked them. “No one hired us,” they answered. “Well, then, you go and work in the vineyard,” he told them.
When evening came, the owner told his foreman, “Call the workers and pay them their wages, starting with those who were hired last and ending with those who were hired first.” The men who had begun to work at five o'clock were paid a silver coin each. So, when the men who were the first to be hired came to be paid, they thought they would get more; but they too were given a silver coin each. They took their money and started grumbling against the employer. “These men who were hired last worked only one hour,” they said, “while we put up with a whole day's work in the hot sun—yet you paid them the same as you paid us!”
“Listen, friend,” the owner answered one of them, “I have not cheated you. After all, you agreed to do a day's work for one silver coin. Now take your pay and go home. I want to give this man who was hired last as much as I gave you. Don't I have the right to do as I wish with my own money?”
(This story was adapted from Matthew chapter 20 in the Good News Bible)
Follow up questions:
  1. Do you think the vineyard owner was fair to give the same amount to all the workers?
  2. How do you think the workers who were hired at the end of the day felt? What about those who had worked all day?
  3. What kind of people do you think would have been left at the marketplace at the end of the day?
  4. Who do you think needed the money the most?
  5. What would you have done if you had been the owner of the vineyard?
To access this story in pdf format please click on the link below:

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