02 June 2011

reflecting: Ephesians 6:5-9

The resurrection and work.

This connection is not, at least to me, as readily apparent as the things we’ve been focused on up to this point.

Easier to see how Jesus rising from the dead might represent a fundamental shift in the way we conceive of ourselves (identity) or others (community). It might even spur on a new way to talk to each other (psalms, hymns, spiritual songs) (kind of the ANTI-Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, instead of sealing us down because of traumatic event, it opens us up following the most pivotal positive event in human history!).

But work? What’s an empty grave got to do with work? Or maybe more importantly, how can we say that things are different when they don’t look like it?
Servants, respectfully obey your earthly masters but always with an eye to obeying the real master, Christ. Don't just do what you have to do to get by, but work heartily, as Christ's servants doing what God wants you to do. And work with a smile on your face, always keeping in mind that no matter who happens to be giving the orders, you're really serving God. Good work will get you good pay from the Master, regardless of whether you are slave or free. –Ephesians 6:5-9 (the Message)
This passage puts forth, with painful realism, that the revolution caused by Jesus’ resurrection from the dead might not look like much at all. Wouldn’t we expect Paul instead to say something along the lines of, “Slaves, you’re no longer slaves anymore, forget about what that guy’s telling you to do,” or “Masters, you should be ashamed of yourselves, don’t you know this way of doing things is done for?!”  

Instead of totally flipping over the social tables though, the resurrection does something maybe even more subversive here. The resurrection changes the terms. It teaches us that living into the miracle (if there ever was one!) of Jesus leaving an empty tomb, might (and probably won’t) mean leaving your job to pursue a sexier (and presumably holier vocation), it probably won’t mean telling off that boss of yours, or becoming your own boss. It (gasp) might not even mean going to seminary to learn how to be a professional God-lover.

Working in light of the resurrection is instead going to entail a lot of the hard work of service. It’s going to be a new perspective on the same old thing, seeing everything, every moment as an opportunity to demonstrate the kind of world that Jesus’ risen body sets up and anticipates. It shows off the fact that living only comes through dying, and that God is faithful and able to raise the dead, to heal what’s broken, and to bring about peace, justice, and restoration even in the darkest and most unlikely places. Oh, and maybe one of those places is where you punch a clock.

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