Notes on work...

    St. Paul, speaking in 2nd Thessalonians, states fairly directly (for Paul) that those who do not work should not eat.  Tough message for a society that is almost obsessed with retirement and reaching a comfortable stage in life when work is not required for our sustenance and/or security.


   We should give Paul a bit of credit here for not having a talent as a science fiction writer.  He wasn't looking toward a future economic system (which may or may not work).  He was looking at individuals trying to be followers of Christ, and he didn't want these new Christians sitting around waiting for the Second Coming and growing as chubby as Jerry Falwell while doing it.  Perhaps Paul was just trying to say, to a culture where physical labor was considered demeaning, that Christians shouldn't be ashamed to be members of the working class. Perhaps he was trying to say that Christians shouldn't be ashamed to be a member of ANY class.


    Or maybe we can look at the word "work."  If we look upon "work" as doing something for ourselves, filling our own pockets, then work is simply an act of selfishness.  If, however, we look upon "work" as doing something to benefit others, such as our families, our neighbors, or even our grandchildren, then "work" should continue all of our lives.  

           

    I'm reminded of a woman I met as a child.  She was an occupant of a county nursing home in Cincinnati, Ohio.  It was one of those big old homes the county had taken over and made into a place to store indigent elderly while they waited to die.  A good many of the tenants were "out of it" both mentally and physically, but up on one of the wards loaded with bed-ridden elderly was a lady who was the obvious leader of her wrinkled community.  She greeted our pack of visiting junior high students loudly and laughingly, then asked us questions, introduced us around and got a goodly number of her neighbors smiling and engaged.  To me she was "working" up to the last, and having a great time doing it.


    I often think of her now as one of the best Christians I have ever met, even though I can't remember her name and never knew  if she even belonged to a Christian church.  I only remember her "work," and it was terrific.   She was certainly earning the meals the county provided, and I hope she is enjoying a heavenly banquet somewhere today.