How do these Commitments interrelate and influence each other?
I think that they do. Part of it is that when you go into Christian history, when you actually begin to walk the walk, both in the time of Christ and the time since, Christians have had a thing about work. We have a thing about Works, and we have a thing about work. The thing about Works is that they should be a manifestation of how we believe and should show on us. The question that people like to ask is “is there enough evidence in your life of your Christianity to be convicted of it?” You know, if people were charging folks for being Christian, would your life show enough, even to the casual observer, that they would say, “yeah, there’s one right there,” . . . So there’s the Christian Works piece, which is very important, very significant, but then there’s just the idea of ‘work.’
A lot of what Jesus says, interestingly enough, has to do with people at work. A lot of his illustrations are about work, like the Parable of the Sower and the Seeds where you can picture him out in the field. ‘You will reap what you sow’ is the idea in one of his parables in which labor is involved. You’ll appreciate this one: there’s a group of laborers in the vineyard, and one has started at dawn, and late morning here comes some more, and they start working with the first group, and then later in the day here comes more working with the other two groups, and then at the end of the day all get paid the same. So how do you react to that?
But that’s one of the great things about Jesus, he uses these work parables! Because that’s what he’s saying about believing, that you don’t get more because you stayed in longer, you don’t get more because you believed first. The idea is that everybody who believes is treated the same. So you continue to get these little work bits from him, they’re all kind of scattered like yeast through our whole faith …
But it gets interesting for our students, I think, because one of the snags that they encounter is that many of them are coming to college with the anticipation that there are certain kinds of work that they will not have to do for a living. Their home folks have said, “Let’s have you go to college so that you won’t have the kind of daily routines that I have to do.” And so they come to college and the first thing we do is give them a bucket and a mop and send them off. So they may ask, “what are we doing?” and there’s that struggle, and that struggle is part of what God gives us. It is the question “is there anything that you’re too good to do?”
And we like to believe as Christians, that the answer to that question is “no.” And every once in a while you’ll get a moment of “how did I get here?” when it comes to doing work, whatever it is you do, but we are servants, and in fact we do serve. So if there’s work that needs to be done, depending on whoever is available, then yes, we’re going to do it. Gladly.