The gospel, the “good news,” is not a transaction that can be understood in economic terms. It is not something we earn through our own merits or by virtue of hard work. And Luther found great relief in that because it freed him from the burden of earning his salvation.
No, the gospel, the “good news,” is a gift far out of proportion to the worthiness of its recipient, just as the landowner in today’s lesson chose disproportionately to reward the worker who showed up just before happy hour. The gospel cannot be understood in economic terms, much less according to the principles of capitalism. The grace of God defies all understanding. And we are left simply to scratch our heads at the wonder of it all and live into our status as God’s people – not as an entitlement, not as something we’ve earned, but as grateful recipients of the landowner’s largesse.
- Randall Balmer, "Kingdom Economics," Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost, September 18, 2011, Christ Church, Middle Haddam, Connecticut.