Monday, September 5, 2011

Religion At Your Doorstep-The Importance of Home Work

Today is Labor Day and for many, it signals the end of summer and the onset of fall.  Labor Day was started as a holiday to celebrate the importance of the worker and was originally organized by Union leaders to show the solidarity of workers.  Let's face it, without workers willing to work nothing would get done!  Leaders and executives can plan all they want, but without workers, none of their plans can be implemented!  Workers do matter!

Jesus understood this in the spiritual realm as well.  So many of his parables focus on laborers and workers because he knew that without willing workers, nothing gets done!  So it's no surprise to me that in 1 Timothy 5, Paul reminds Timothy about the importance of taking care of the widows and doing work for them.  The Message paraphrase says this:
"...let them learn that religion begins at their own doorstep and that they should pay back with gratitude some of what they have received."
Work starts at home.  It starts with helping your family.  It expands to helping your friends, your community and the world around you, but it starts on your doorstep!

If this past week is any indication, I don't think that the average worker has forgotten this lesson!  People who were not effected by the flooding have joined together in their own community to help those who were effected.  I saw the same thing earlier in the spring in Joplin, Missouri after the tornado.  Family helping family.  Friend helping friend.  Neighbor helping neighbor.

What a contrast to the warning that Paul gives Timothy in 2 Timothy 3.  The Message paraphrase says:
"Don't be naive.  There are difficult times ahead.  As the end approaches, people are going to be self-absorbed, money-hungry, self-promoting, stuck-up, profane, contemptuous of parents, crude, coarse, dog-eat-dog, unbending, slanderers, impulsively wild, savage, cynical, treacherous, ruthless, bloated windbags, addicted to lust, and allergic to God.  They'll make a show of religion, but behind the scenes they're animals.  Stay clear of these people."
No, I'm not saying the end is near!  But I will admit, I see an awful lot today that fits Paul's description.  Particularly in the world of politics where the concern is not about doing the best for the country or the state or the community.  Rather, it is about doing the best for the individual candidate.  Or, in the corporate world where it is about doing the best for the profit margin so the CEO saves his job.

There is a stark contrast!  I have yet to see an elected official helping with clean up efforts.  They tour, they talk, they look fresh as a daisy standing in the chaos.  I have, however, seen family, friends, neighbors and strangers stepping in and getting their hands dirty and helping with the work.   I am puzzled by this disconnect.  They talk a good talk but where's the walk?  And I wonder if this explains why our unemployment rate has stayed so high?  Is it because they say they get it but the reality is, they honestly do not understand that they could make a huge difference if they would just get off their collective high horse and get to work?

We talk a lot about the unemployment rate as reported by the department of Labor which hovers right around 9%.  But there are economists who look at a larger picture and put the real unemployment rate at anywhere between 16% and 22%.  If the real rate is closer to 22% that means almost 1/4 of our eligible workforce is not working!  With all of the damage from various storms around the country is there really any reason for that number to be so high?  There is work to be done, so why can't our leadership work together to start rebuilding?  I don't get it, I really don't, why there is so little agreement on things that matter to everyone!  They are elected servants of the people first, and leaders second.  And Jesus made it very clear that a true leader serves others first and puts their own self-interest second.  The same principle applies to the business world as well.  It's not about the shareholder, it's about providing the best product to the client.  And in order to do that you provide your workers with the very best equipment to make that possible.  How could they have forgotten that?

I am just grateful that on this Labor Day I can point to individuals who have not forgotten this very basic lesson!  These individuals within their communities are practicing what they intuitively know to be right.  Religion starts at your own doorstep and it means helping others from your own grateful heart!  They are working together to clean up, rebuild and restore.

Thank you God for willing workers!  Let their example shine brightly for others to see!

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