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The only way: say one thing; do the other

And when he (Jesus – in Jerusalem around AD 30) entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” Jesus answered them… So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things. But what do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him.” Matthew 21:23-32 

 
One of the intriguing things about Donald Trump is the number of times that he seems to change his mind. He tweets and does the opposite. Very lately he pulls US troops out of Syria immediately. A few days later this is to be done very gradually. Maybe imperceptibly?

Look above therefore to a story Jesus told to the authorities in Jerusalem - religious, legal and political - in the last few days before he was put to death by them. They were challenging his authority face-to-face. What right did he have to teach them, of all people, them the authorities…?

“What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?

 
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‘One thing you can give and still keep is your word.’ (Anon.)
Can we apply that to Donald Trump? When he says “I will”, will he? Will he actually do what he’s talking about? Or will he, like both sons in Jesus’ story, actually end up doing the opposite? Actually, in passing, isn’t that what happens with election manifestos? And – again – will that happen to what is being said these days about Brexit?

But let’s get back to AD 30. Jesus asked the great and the good that key question, “Which of the two sons did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” 

That was the one who said, ‘I won’t work in your vineyard today’ but afterwards changed his mind and did go. The father asked his sons to work. It wasn’t what they said that counted. It was what they did that mattered. I need to apply that to me as well as to Donald Trump, Brexiters and Remainers.

But Jesus had something more important that economics – and even war - on his mind. Although he was facing death – his own death – within days – he was concerned about those standing there listening to him. He wasn’t concerned about their words. He was concerned about where their deeds were taking them. 

Here’s what he said to them (a tad embellished by me) after the story of the vineyard sons. “What I’m about to tell you is true.” Jesus said to them. “Fifth columnist tax farmers and prostitutes will enter the kingdom of God ahead of you. John the Baptist came to show you the righteous way to live. And you didn’t believe him. But the fifth columnist tax farmers did and the prostitutes did. You watched them change visibly. But, even then, you didn’t change your minds. You didn’t believe him.”

 
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‘No wickedness on earth is more common than the various forms of deceit.’ (William S Plumer, teacher and author, 1802-1880)
All around us it seems that people say one thing and do another. Not only in the US and UK. In Jersey too. Not only in war and economics but in the home as well. 

When John the Baptist came and asked people to change it was those who did change their deeds that Jesus endorsed – not those who talked about it. Will those who don’t do at work and at home what they’ve said and sung in church get away with it? In the end?

Is it the same for me also with regard to the good news of Jesus? Will it only apply to me if I do what Jesus says? What do you think? What do you do?

 
Sinner Syvret

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