by Dave Williamson
The everyday life of faith ultimately is pretty simple and straightforward stuff—simple, not necessarily easy. While there are many complex nuances of thoughtful reflection and application of Christian faith to each person’s everyday life, at the beginning and in the end, it is quite clear, direct. Jesus summarized all of the Old Testament by affirming the two great commandments: Love God, with your whole being—all you’ve got,”with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence” (Luke 10:27, The Message) and, love your neighbor as yourself. Love is the bottom line!
For Jesus, for the Christian, love is a verb, an action, a whole series of actions, down to earth, concrete, nitty-gritty expressions of everyday kindness and compassion. When asked about what it meant to love one’s neighbor, Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan, the despised foreigner who took a risk and showed practical, generous compassion to a fellow traveler. The Samaritan’s act was risky and costly, simple and straightforward.
In another setting, Jesus responds to a question about God’s final accounting (Matthew 25:31-40). Those who inherit the Kingdom (receive God’s blessing) are those who feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, provide a room for the homeless, clothes for the poor, and spend time with the sick and those incarcerated. This is true faithfulness and love for Christ: “Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40, The Message).
Later, to Christians living in the supreme “Secular City,” the Imperial Capital, Paul spelled it out even more: Love must be genuine (Romans 12:9). Genuine love is expressed through mutual affection (being really good friends), playing second fiddle, energetically persevering in caring, inventive, entrepreneurial in hospitality to strangers and good friends alike, blessing enemies, sharing the laughter and tears of others, living in harmony with all, with humility. Real love refrains from revenge and judgment, looks for the best in everyone, lets God judge, and takes the initiative in doing simple acts of kindness and generosity.
And that is the high calling of our daily work: being faithful to doing love. Practical care is our primary vocation, or primary job, our number one purpose in life, whether at work, at home, on the highway, in our neighborhood, as we walk the streets, have lunch or dinner in a fine restaurant, or fast-food drive-through, or exercise at the club. This is our calling, as a Christian, God’s will for our lives, our reason for working, living, being. Professor Gerry Sittser writes, “Jesus’ teachings about the simple will of God is therefore, always relevant to every situation imaginable, whether we are doctors or ministers, single or married, young or old, healthy, or rich. It is the daily choices we make to honor and serve God.”
Questions for discussion:
In my daily work, how does what I do (product) and how it is done (process) facilitate or express practical, genuine love?
- For my co-workers?
- For those who receive the finished product, the final recipient of my work?
- For the community and/or nation in which I live and work?
- For the people of the world?
Editor’s Note: This article was originally posted at TheHighCalling.org.