Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Being Different Part III-- Calloused Hands

When I served a small congregation in Western New York's grape farming country, my hands were always the giveaway to the fact that I "wasn't from around here." They were too soft, too clean; they hadn't seen years of work or any great amount of use.
Calloused hands are the sign of hard labor over long periods of time. And the PC(USA) has hands that are too soft, and too clean. We have revelled in the pride of place and position, looking to money to do our work for us-- but the work of making disciples cannot be outsourced, no matter how much money one has.
Disciples are made by example; the Word is preached by the life that stands behind the words of the preacher. Love is hard work, and Christ teaches us that hard work is good.
Paul in 2 Thessalonians 3 states a simple fact of life: those who will not work will not eat. Without the hard work of making disciples, the Church simply starves to death. But do the hard work, and the God who fed the Israelites for 40 years across the wilderness with bread from heaven will feed us with Bread of life that we may feed on here and now, and live forever.
It is only when each of us does the work to which Christ calls us that we are individually and collectively fed. The manicured hands of a priviledged denomination are no longer something to be admired. On the mission field, clean hands are the sign of idleness. It's time to get out into our neighborhoods and communities and get our hands dirty doing the Lord's work. No matter how hard it is, the Lord's work is always good.

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