It is the day after Labour Day or as my American friends call it Labor Day. Its focus has been and continues to be on the worker. I think most who have worked for a living would say they are workers but this holiday is not meant to cover all workers. The target group being celebrated is unionized labour.
So to set the record straight, Labour Day is not really a celebration of the worker but a celebration of the big business that fights big business to get the worker more money so the worker pays more dues and the union then makes more money. I think I may be in trouble now.
I am not taking a pro or anti-union stance.
If I am a capitalist and a supporter of big business I must admire the ever growing coffers of the union industry even if I don’t like the power they hold over me in negotiations. If I am a worker I must admire the ability of the union to protect my job, increase my wages and improve my working conditions even if I don’t like the perks the union bosses get that far exceed the benefits they negotiate on my behalf.
Our union with Christ does not bring any of the benefits or protection of the labour movement.
In Canada and the USA as well as most of the developed and democratic world, the worker has rights. Union or not there are limits to what can be asked of any worker. Safeguards are put in place to protect the health and safety as well as the wages of all workers. It is through this lens that many of us see our call to be workers in the harvest but that is not biblical.
Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated—Hebrews 11:36-37 (NIV)
Enjoy it but don’t embrace it as the way things will always be.
It would be silly for me to demand that you feel guilty about the advantages you have. Our issues begin when the advantages we have become the main mark of obedience to God. The writer of Hebrews chapter 11 (all of the chapter not just the verses above) lists what we would view in human terms as positive and negative outcomes as the results of obedient faith. We too must accept that as workers both are possible.
It is not that one worker will have good and the other bad, again I am viewing this in human terms, it is that we may experience both numerous times in our life. Our labour is not to better our circumstances and to increase our paychecks, our labour as workers in the harvest is to please God. If we are obedient faithful servants of God then we can enjoy what the world views as good while finding joy whether the outcome is good or bad.
Maybe next Labour Day or any work day in between, we should read Hebrews 11.
Our labour for God is done in faithful obedience just as the “great cloud of witnesses” that have gone before us laboured in faithful obedience. If the part about being killed or banished weighs heavy remember what Paul said in his letter to the Philippians:
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:12-13 (NIV)
If you feel like what you are doing, the work you have been called by God to do is going nowhere, remember what Paul said in his letter to the Corinthians:
…my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58 (NIV)
Our Labour of Love is a labour of faithful obedience to our creator.