September 27, 2020 · C.E. Carter
“Out work” is one of my dad’s sayings. In a sense, it’s one of the statements he’s lived his life by, and it was one of the ethics he made sure to pass to me and my sister. My parents modeled hard work and smart choices for me throughout my childhood, and I learned a lot of lessons about commitment to a task and decision making because of their excellent example. I’m proud to say that hard work is a staple of our family’s life, and I hope that I model that as well as it was modeled to me.
For those of us with a pessimistic eschatology, it’s easy to be a little vexed about work, how we work, and what the ultimate outcome of our work is. If you have the opportunity to catch me on the downside of an oatmeal stout on a Saturday night at an English pub, when I have a tendency to get speculative, poetic, and sometimes somewhat mystical, I’ll most likely end up expounding some ideas from postmillenialism, and possibly present to you some contrarian arguments supporting pedobaptism, just for giggles. But for most of the time, and across most of Christendom, the interpretation of Scripture is that the world is going to get a lot worse, then Jesus will come back, and then the world will be destroyed before being replaced by a New Heaven and Earth. A Christian Nihilist is a contradiction in terms, but if you met one, he would probably have a point here: why work, if it’s all going to burn up?
Well, simply, it’s not going to all burn up. Our Lord assures us that we will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous. No matter how the world turns out, we will be honored before God for our sacrifices, our generosity to the needy, our gentleness and care and love for one another. Our work in this life is ultimately not something we do for ourselves as Christians, but labor which we undertake for the sake of others, as if we were working for the Lord Himself as those who have been assigned to steward the world and its resources in righteous ways. Our generosity and the mercy we display to others through and because of our vocation are not trivial things; a worker who accomplishes his labor for others in love, no matter if it is plumbing or computer programming, shows something of the labor of Christ in His life and upon the Cross, for the world.