This is the weekend that we celebrate the concept of work here in America. We pause to honor all of our citizens who engage in it and whose labor sustains the shining symbol of freedom and prosperity that America represents to the world. It follows a week that chronicled one of the worst national disasters in our history. It’s a good time to talk about work and its role in our heritage because we have been witnessing for a week the end result of the kind of sacrificial spirit and overcoming perseverance that built this nation.
We were blessed in our beginning, and for most of our history, with men and women of great intellect, powerful spirit, and deep commitment to God and His truth. That kind of foundation enabled America to become the most powerful and prosperous nation that has existed in modern history. But it wasn’t just their intellect, their spirit alone, or the depth of their commitment that built this nation. It was their work.
It is always in the application—in the work—that the power of ideas, concepts, and intellect is finally tested. It is there that they prove themselves to be valid and effective or not. It is also in the work that the underlying spirit of those concepts is exposed and where that spirit touches and reproduces itself in the lives of others. Grand statements of allegiance and commitment mean nothing if they aren’t translated into a hands-on application. In the final analysis, if an idea, or a philosophy, or a religious dogma doesn’t work, then it’s worthless.
We Met God in a Workshop, Not a Classroom ~
God used Himself as the pattern when He created us and declared that He had made us uniquely “like” Him—in His “image”. He wanted a creature with the capacity to have intimate, interactive communion with Him—one who could “know” Him in a way that nothing else in the universe could, but bringing us to that point was challenging, to say the least.
One of the mechanisms God chose to employ in the task of unfolding that introduction of Himself and developing the kind of relationship He wanted was to give us words. He devised verbal symbols that would represent the most astounding collection of profound, complex, challenging ideas that would ever be conceived, but God knew that the words alone would never be enough. So He began the process by fashioning an appropriate place to meet us. It’s enlightening to note that when He began the process of introducing Himself, He did not invite us into a sanctified lecture hall and hand everybody a neat little folder with an accompanying notebook. He invited us into His workshop.
God saw beforehand that our confrontation with the words He gave would often leave us feeling lost in a sea of mental frustration and futility. Those profound, transcendent concepts that define who He is needed something more. What He says must be blended with what He does in order to know who He is. God is always most knowable when He invites us into His workshop and displays by His actions what the words really mean. That procedure was most powerfully unveiled through Jesus Christ, when “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14a NKJV).
It is abundantly clear from the very beginning that one of the things that being made “in His image” means is that we were designed and created to work. Everything about us was engineered for activity, constructed to accommodate movement, and empowered to function, to produce, to create, and to achieve. God’s plan, even before the fall, was for us to be involved in activities that were purposeful and productive, and His intention has always been that our work should be conducted in a way that reflects His character, that blesses us, and that sustains life.
Work — Our Dissertation on Life ~
We often quote grand-sounding philosophical statements in response to life’s deep questions, like who we are, why we’re here, what things we think are most important, and what we really believe, but they rarely reveal our real answers to those questions. The most accurate descriptions of what we hold to be true about life, especially regarding those basic principles Jesus taught and demonstrated are unveiled in our observable responses, not just our verbal affirmations. Ultimately, it is what we choose to do and/or not do that provides the most accurate expression of who and what we are.
The final death toll from Hurricane Harvey is not known yet, but what is known is that multitudes along the Gulf coast of Texas and Louisiana have faced, and are facing, losses that have irreversibly altered what life means for them. Thousands have seen irreplaceable reminders of their life’s best moments stripped away. An uncounted number watched their homes and businesses be destroyed, knowing that they have no insurance to pay for repairs or reconstruction. Hard working men and women have seen the means of their livelihood cut off for indeterminate periods of time, or eliminated altogether. Thousands fled the rising floodwaters with no possessions beyond the clothes they wore, with little or no money, with no place to go and no way to get there even if they did. The definition of “need” is unsearchable.
A Visible “Gospel” Needed ~
The faith and prayers of others are vital for Harvey’s victims, but they need much more than that. Another “Good News” sermon in a comfortable auditorium won’t feed, clothe, or rescue anyone. They need a “Gospel” that’s visible.
This unprecedented storm brought a flood that can’t be measured in gallons of water. It brought wave upon wave of opportunities to reveal what the words of our “Christianity” really mean. James made this sobering observation, and we need to hear it clearly now:
“What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can [that kind of] faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” (James 2:14-17 NKJV)
© 2017 Gallagher’s Pen, Ronald L. Gallagher, Ed.S. All rights reserved.
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