Good Saturday morning my friends. It felt good to sleep in this morning by almost 3 hours. It must mean I was tired from my week. I don't mind feeling tired at the end of the week, in fact it feels pretty good. I enjoy working. I enjoy producing useful things and I love that I am a useful person to people. Hard work will never kill me but idleness will. I cannot stand having nothing to do. It is a part of my character because I was trained well by my parents. It is not that they sat down and gave me instruction on being a diligent worker. They didn't have to; I learned it from the example of their lives. It is as Paul wrote to the Thessalonians. In fact he ended his second letter to them with this:
In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone's food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow. For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: "If a man will not work, he shall not eat." (2 Thessalonians 3:6-10)
This is an interesting subject for a Saturday in a society that appears to value entertainment more than anything else. There was a time in our societies when each man and each woman were producers of some sort. Not everyone was a farmer or a housewife producing preservatives to sell, but everyone contributed something to their community that was of use to other members of that society. There was a good balance between production and consumption. There is no such balance now, in fact there seems to be few people who even understand the concept of working to contribute to the community. Many people work so that they can have money to consume what they want; usually entertainment. This is even worse when we translate it into the setting of the Body of Christ. Paul writes:
We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat. And as for you, brothers, never tire of doing what is right. vs. 11-13
We are no better than the world in the way we have turned our churches into producers of products and the pew sitters into the people who consume those products. If a church does not have a certain "entertainment" value it will fail. There are some very successful churches and pastors who have plugged into the mentality of our society and have become very good at drawing people in with their high entertainment value. But what are those people being taught to produce if anything at all? I am not dumping on any churches, I do not have any particular ones in mind, I am only continuing to point out what I have pointed out since the early days of the Church Growth movement; it is a dangerous approach and mentality. Every Christian in every church needs to be trained to understand they are producers as well as consumers. They must work and contribute to the community.
I realize that much of what Paul is writing here has to do with physical labour but he understood that this also translates spiritually. If a person is a hard worker in their occupation they will easily understand the need to be a good labourer in the Kingdom. And those who are good labourers in the Kingdom will also be a hard worker in their work place. However, we need to stop entertaining and get back to training. We need to be trainers or we will have a work force that does not understand its place or purpose. Yes, our churches are houses of worship but they are also places of instruction. Of course Paul hit the truth of the matter; the best instructions are given by example. Do we not follow Jesus' example as well as Paul's? Words are great but nothing speaks louder than leading by example.
I was shocked to hear yesterday that it is claimed that almost a third of my country is Muslim. That is what the Muslim community claims and that is what is reported on the news. Considering how empty the churches are I do not believe it safe to think that two thirds are Christian. I would say more like an eighth or less of the population are devote followers of Jesus. But that is okay because God has done his greatest work with small numbers. In my province only 0.3% are evangelical Christians. This means that every Christian must hear the call to the harvest field and everyone must commit themselves to be labourers for Christ. We cannot afford to entertain idle believers, there is far too much work to be done. So let's get to it!