Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Christ and Work: God's Challenge--by Linden Malki

Jesus worked. People kept saying,"Isn't that the carpenter's son from Nazareth?" In context, that would have been a whole series of mental images: the little kid sweeping up shavings, the bigger kid fetching tools, holding the other end of something, probably working one end of a two-man saw. My dad grew up in the lumber business and was always building or remodeling something; as the last kid at home, I was the assistant. Woodworking wasn't Dad's day job; it was something he did because he loved making something that filled a need.

We know that Joseph and Jesus were known for their work. We know that he respected hard workers; on at least two occasions he took pity on Peter and his fisherman collegues who were not catching anything and miraculously filled their nets with fish. On the other hand, the angriest we ever see him is when he drives out those who were using the Temple sacrificial system to make money from the pilgrims and worshippers. Jesus repeatedly explains that whatever he does is what His Father does and commands.

And what is the first thing that we know about God? In the beginning, God creates! And there is work involved, because even God takes a deserved break. And what do we know about what God made? That it was good! And we are created in His likeness--which implies that we are to work, and the result should be something better than there was before. Jesus called a few people to leave their day jobs and become his proteges; he called others to serve him in the places he found them. As St Paul put it, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving." (Colossians 3:23-24)

My husband John and I found ourselves called to smooth some of the bumps of the imperfect world we live in; I have said that if nobody's cars broke, I could go home and starve. But we have had opportunities to serve God beyond the nuts and bolts. I had not realized how many people John had mentored until after his death. A few months later, I got an email from a former apprentice who said that he had not only learned about repairing cars at our place, but about God and family as well; and that he and his family were active in a church. Are we doing a job not to only our own best but calling on God's help; and is what we are doing worth doing in His name?

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