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From August 15, 2014

two fish and loaves A Reflection
  by Pastor Cliff

Hi Friends:

I have read that Philip II of Spain had a window built into the office where he worked so he could see his private chapel next door. Anytime he was working at his desk, considering the affairs of the nation, he could look at the cross on the altar in his place of worship. Worship and work, religion and labor, were not compartmentalized but beautifully blended within the life of this Spanish ruler. His labor for the state was informed by his love for the Christ.

Today work has become almost exclusively an economic concern. In reality, work is a theological concept. The idea of human labor was born in the creative mind of God, and the command to work is written into the creation accounts of the Old Testament. In the New Testament, Paul speaks of work from a Christian perspective. In Colossians he says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as though you were working for the Lord and not for people” (3:23 TEV). The New Testament does not distinguish between sacred and secular tasks. In fact, the New Testament apparently has no concept of secular employment. When work is done for the Lord, any work, it becomes sacred. Yes, the purpose of work is income – but income over which the Christian acts as a steward to provide for family and self and to help those in need.

As we move along the dog days of summer, let’s praise God for work, while remembering that life does not consist of work alone. In our society, the meaning of life is often identified with employment. That is why vacation periods are often either not used or used to do some different kind of work. That is also why retirement is sometimes viewed as failure.

Work is certainly an important dimension of life, but life does not, must not, consist of work alone. Some things are worth far more than a particular job. Morality and personal integrity are more valuable than work. Family solidarity and healthy intrafamily relationships are worth far more than any one job. A good relationship with the church is more significant than a particular position of employment. These are some of the components of life that are worth quitting work to enjoy. Of course there does not have to be a conflict between work and any one of these. But when there is conflict, let’s not make a mistake about which is more important.

Work is never so important as to demand all of life. The truth is that when our total allegiance and energies are devoted to any temporal concern, this is sin. God alone is absolutely worth living for or dying for.

And the church has responsibilities here too. No one person or group within the church should be expected to do everything. The church is a community that functions best when each member of the community works within it according to his or her God-given abilities. There’s lots to do at church, that’s true, but even here work must have restrictions.

Summer is a time for lemonade, baseball games, art festivals, and outdoor concerts. It is a time for visiting neighbors on patios, porches and decks, and a time to pause and enjoy a super moon. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as though you were working for the Lord and not for people.” Pour yourself into your labor this summer; then rest awhile, without feeling guilty.

See you at church on Sunday!

Cliff Houston
Interim Pastor, FBCR

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