"If you work for a man, in Heaven's name work for him. If he pays wages that supply you your bread and butter, work for him, speak well of him, think well of him, and stand by him, and stand by the institution he represents.If you must vilify, condemn, and eternally disparage, why, resign your position, and when you are outside, damn to your heart's content. But, I pray you, so long as you are a part of an institution, do not condemn it. Not that you will injure the institution--not that--but when you disparage the concern of which you are a part, you disparage yourself."
A Message for Garcia, Elbert Hubbard
Work assigned me homework to read the book possessing this excerpt.And I'm so glad I did. The initial intention is to consider this for my job, to be loyal to my company, always working for it and with the utmost respect for that which we do and whom we do it for. And over the past few days, it's come back again and again as a Christian ideal.
I have no thought of this in the realm of "working" for God whatsoever. The Christian ideal that has plagued me is that of ownership. Of having such stake, inheritance, and need for it, that you would find yourself doing nothing other than speaking well of it and working for its benefit. I think this trickles down from a home base of God Himself into every other area of life; as is everything I suppose, because life is not without God.
If I am a Christian, then I better be a good one. I better seek God with fervor, a single mindedness forcing me to see His loves as my loves. His people, His church, His disciplines as good and necessary. I am the worst culprit of being critical and refusing the thing all together. I've a nasty habit of going half the distance and stopping there. Recognizing the problem and never seeking the solution. Seeing a need, but not actively meeting it. I think we are all guilty of it, Americans are consumers of Christianity, we're consumers of everything.
And why wouldn't we be? Everything is tangible, food, clothing, excess, interests. I can portray an active interest in something yet never have done the thing and people could see me as an expert. How sad I am when I see this in myself. Although, this consumerism is but a symptom of the problem. Is not the real problem that I am attempting to posture myself in such a way for my benefit? It's the danger, dare I say it, in Theology. What help is knowledge for the dying man? He needs what the knowledge teaches can save.
My mother has recently begun to teach me to garden. I love this for many reasons. It's a treat to be able to share an interest with my mother, something she has such a greater knowledge in that I can only but reap the benefit of sharing. The action of gardening is innately slow. It requires patience and tenacity and attention. A wonderful balance of painstaking detail and general vision. It's an interest that is equal parts about the process as the result and I find that simply wonderful. In learning to garden, I have found myself impatient with my lack of knowledge. I'm around gardens often, I like flowers, I understand all of the components, however without actually digging a hole, planting seeds and letting the thing grow, I will never actually be a gardener.
Kevin Cawley spoke this morning about behavior being the derivative of origin. I can not decide my origin by my behavior, it is a result. And is that not the same implication of what Hubbard says? If one is going to be a Christian, the speaking of God certainly does not dictate the ownership by Him, but it certainly affects the interpretation of it by others. People can see me however they want to, but my intentions in my actions, that is what is going to actually change me. If I am living begottenly (I decree this a word), then my behavior will carry the scent of that. It will incur the slowness of doubt and trouble, not looking to the pain as the result of my faith but of something that my faith can triumph, though it take time. Being a child of God means that I am in it for the long haul and to remind myself, I best speak of it often and speak of it well. To do otherwise doesn't hinder God, it hinders me.
The Christian faith is completely familial. Built upon a foundation of being for one another and for our differences. C.S. Lewis says, "When you find yourself turning your children, or pupils, or even your neighbours, into people exactly like yourself, remember that God probably never meant them to be that." We were always intended to be compatible, not similar. And in that, we should root for one another. Rooting for another by asking questions, learning, sharing, arguing, depending. We root for one another in the faith by letting tensions be tense and letting God sanctify us in the differences.
This trickling is just beginning in my mind. Manfiesting itself in a hundred ways I would love to write out, but for my benefit and your own, I am done for now. But let this be the whole of it, if we're going to be Christians, let's be them. All the way. With the hard and easy, the joyful and the painstaking, the fights and the camaraderie. Let us speak kindly of one another and of God, despite the callousness and bitter infractions we may have had. Let us confront one another in the humblest of ways, checking three times over that we do it for each other and not out of selfish ambition or conceit. Let us be for God and for each other.