Labor (Worship) Day: Part Deux
This is a follow up post to Labor (Worship) Day, where I raised some questions about work. Here, I hope, are some answers. I've worked quite a variety jobs in my so far short life. I've been a farmhand, roofer, raiser of pigs, nursing home orderly (a basic nurse without credentials), janitor, and a truck driver and grunt-man for a book company. Currently, I give guitar lessons, roast coffee, and help out at the Goshen Theater with sound and other tasks. Over the years I've worked 80 hour weeks, 18 hour shifts, and along the way I've made more money than I knew what to do with as well as less than I needed. I'm still young, but I received my first paycheck before I was 10.
Work is good. At least it was meant to be as God made it. When sin entered the world, God didn't say, "Ha! Now you have to work 9-5 for Michael Scott in a cubicle!" But he did say that because of what we introduced into the world, the harvest that came so easily before would now be a struggle to get to. Part of work became smeared with a burden that it didn't previously have, corrupted by our own discontentment with what God had already given.
The Bible talks about work, but doesn't get to specific. It talks about providing for needs in places like Proverbs 31, or 2 Thessalonians 3:10, it shows us wealthy business people like Lydia who sold high dollar garments made for royalty, or Paul making tents for two years in Corinth, and Jesus of course called blue collar workers away from their fishing boats. The Bible doesn't necessarily tell us much about what we should or shouldn't do with work, but He does give us a new priority in the kingdom of God, "go and make disciples of all nations."
The sad reality is that the way we've approached work as well as lifestyle in North America has often been more of a curse than a blessing. There is always the next Lego set, the new toy hauler, and that exotic vacation we need each year to give us a break from all the work we need to do to pay for it all. Often, the difference between what we need and what we want (which is always changing) costs us much more than money. I know it's true because it doesn't matter how much or how little money I've had, I have eaten out to make myself feel better, purchased gadgets to fill emotional holes, and experienced near depression for a week before and after I sold my motorcycle. It's disgusting!
When was the last time someone talked to you about downgrading their lifestyle for the sake of giving more of their time (our greatest resource) and finances to following Jesus, accomplishing his goals, even as their income went up? I'm not saying it's a biblical requirement, I'm really not. I'm just saying it's a sad indicator of our priorities that it took me quite a while to answer my own question. I can't count how many people I've known who wanted to give more time to God but were unable because of the lifestyle and employment choices they had made and were stuck in. Home ownership, for example, may generally be a wise financial decision, but is it always the best kingdom decision?
Maybe for all our financial progress, we are all looking at things backwards, starting with the wrong questions. Maybe the real challenge of living in the land of opportunity is the call to lay down personal opportunity for the sake of the kingdom.