Monday, September 3, 2018
Work is not a bad thing. . .
We have plans and dreams. We seek happiness and fulfillment. We want experiences and memories. We see incomes more as a right than reward and we expect a great deal from government that other generations before us did not. We have come to believe it is our right to work a modest portion of our lives (30 years or so) and then to enjoy the rest of our lives in pursuit of what makes us happy. We have come to expect that even at work we should be allowed to shop online, play games, live on social media, and the like.
As an individual, I am in the middle of it all. I have learned too well from my father that work is good and this is what we were created for. But I am drawn by the prevailing trends of modernity to also seek happiness. That is the place of my generation. I could say that I am uniquely suited then to objectively critique both sides. But that would be a lie. I am as mired as anyone in my context.
As a pastor, I complain about direction of things and people. I fear what will happen when monthly church attendance becomes the norm for most of our members instead of only part of them. I fear for the future when people will no longer believe it is good or right to sacrifice much of your time or energy or money for causes other than self and self-interest. So many see me as a curmudgeon complaining about the present and future while glorying in a false image of the past.
But that is not what I am trying to do. I would rather us see work again as a gift from God and not simply as a means to a paycheck or a duty. I would rather us rediscover the sense of vocation in which work has a noble place and our work is a noble calling. I would rather relieve work of some of the burden we have placed upon it -- as if work time were playtime with a financial reward attached.
I look around me and wonder what we will do when labor is left to the immigrants or migrants because we neither want to work that hard or do the distasteful things that must be done. I wonder what will happen to us when technology makes it easier to produce things, service things, and even care for our bodies with machines instead of people. I wonder what will happen to us when our social interactions become completely digital as we work at home, shop from home, and entertain ourselves at home.
Labor Day is a small reminder that work is good. It is not a god nor was it meant to be but it is not a bad thing. Six days you shall labor. . . said the Lord. This was not the curse. The work that we were created for became a curse when we resented the God who made us and had to compete in a world replete with injustice and forces against us. Christ did not come to relieve us of work but to restore a right relationship to the work we were always to do. . . and to deliver us to a perfect rest not confined to a day. Oh, well, I have given you enough to think about for this Labor Day.