It’s Not Fair!

The following is a true story.

A campus pastor was teaching a college course on the life and teachings of Jesus. As the date for the final exam approached, the class spent several hours reviewing the material. Some students requested extra individualized time with the pastor. Other students met in peer study groups, cramming for the test. One student, realizing she had to be gone the day of the exam, arranged for a make-up exam, only to be told that the make-up test would be much more difficult.

The day of the exam arrived; students sleepily filed into the room, obviously tired from a night of little sleep and lots of study. The campus pastor walked in, looking very serious. “Before we begin, I would like to read a passage from the Gospel of Matthew.” The parable of the laborers in the vineyard was read. The pastor closed the Bible and said, “This reading says that it’s all a gift – it’s all grace. So you’ve all made an A on your exam, and you’re free to go.”

The students sat, stunned, for a moment; and then something unexpected began to happen. A murmur arose from the class – a murmur of discontent. “You mean we studied all this time for nothing, and those who didn’t study or even show up today get an A too? You’ve got to be kidding! It’s just not fair!” [Living Liturgy 2012]

Our whole working lives are based on an agreement that offers fair wage—we do something in order to get something. In the world of work there is no such thing as a free lunch.

It’s no wonder we struggle with God’s grace. Without counting the cost, God continues to give unmerited love. There is something inherently unfair in the whole idea of grace. Is it fair that, “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us”? Is it fair that the gift is for all of us, active members, and also for those of us who may be inactive members or seekers?

It’s just not fair, this grace upon grace. It’s just not fair, and thank God it’s not!

Adapted from Renew International Prayer Time Cycle A