IN FAITH

WHY WE LABOR

Reflections On American Labor Day

I always get a kick out of reading bumper stickers and posters. They tell an awful lot about the people whose cars or trucks bear them. Some of them have Calvin and Hobbes-like little boys who are putting down another brand of truck. Some of them say, “If you get any closer, introduce yourself.” One of the symbols on cars or trucks is the Greek letter alpha, in the shape of a fish, which is an ancient symbol for Jesus Christ. The word in Greek for fish is ‘ichthus.’ (ik-thoos). There is a story or legend, which says that when the first Christians in Rome and other places would meet one another, and one Christian was trying to find out if the person that he or she was speaking with was also a follower of Christ, the first person would draw half of the fish. If the second person understood the sign, he or she would draw the other half. And the result was that together they had drawn, perhaps in the sand, a symbol, which was at the time secret, because in the first four centuries of its existence the Church of Jesus Christ worshipped in hiding, because Rome had expelled Jews and Christians from the city because they were considered atheists. (They didn’t believe in the old group of Roman gods and goddesses, which was very unpatriotic). But the word ichthus, was an acronym, meaning Iesus, Christos, Theos, Huios, Soter, or Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior. The Church of Jesus Christ, whether Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant, has labored for 2000 years to share the love of God in Christ and God’s salvation with the world’s peoples. The positive results have been the establishment of churches, hospitals, universities, missions, and a host of other ministries, dedicated to serving Christ and people. Other results have been transformed lives of people who have learned a better way of life, a way dedicated to love, justice, mercy and service.
Other symbols dot our land and our television airwaves. I remember one symbol, which isn’t seen much any more, and that is the symbol of the hammer and the sickle. For a while it was on the flag(s) of at least one nation, which doesn’t exist any more, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. In that nation, the rights of the individual were supposed to be protected by their constitution. But, if you’ve ever read Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s book, The Gulag Archipelago, you know that the rights of the individual in the Soviet Union were often not protected. If a person spoke against a government policy, he or she would be banished to Siberia, or some other terrible place. The Soviet Union was supposed to be a “workers’ paradise,” because the philosophy of Karl Marx was dedicated to that end. In The Communist Manifesto, he called for workers of the world to unite, in order that their rights would be protected. How sad that under the leadership of Lenin, Stalin, and the others who followed, millions were murdered or simply disappeared, never to be seen again. The economy of the Soviet Union, which was heavily controlled with a “centralized bureaucracy” cracked and died in the year 1991. It took at long time for this to happen, from the October Revolution of 1918 to November of 1991. But the U.S.S.R. eventually died because oppressive regimes have a way of eventually toppling.
Why revisit this in 2003 as Labor Day approaches? For many post high school aged young people and their younger brothers and sisters, the days of the Soviet Union are not even a memory. They are just a topic in history books. For those of us who are older, we remember the cold war, the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 and the ongoing tension between the Western nations, led by the United States, and the Eastern nations of the Warsaw Pact, led by the Soviet Union. Perhaps because many my generation are now card carrying members of A.A.R.P. (the American Association of Retired Persons), it might be a good time to ask ourselves the question, “What kind of world do we want to bequeath to our children and grandchildren?” Or, another way of asking this is, “For what do we labor?” Is it simply for all the goodies of American life? Or is there something more? Christians believe there is. Jesus said, “Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of man will give to you; for on him has God the Father set his seal.” (John 6:27 RSV)
He also said: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, {20} but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. {21} For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21 RSV)
This Labor Day, ask yourself the question, “Where is my heart?”

The Waynedale News Staff

The Waynedale News Staff

Our in-house staff members work with community members and our local writers to find, write and edit the latest and most interesting news worthy stories. This is your community newspaper, we are always looking for local stories that interest you.

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The Waynedale News Staff

Our in-house staff members work with community members and our local writers to find, write and edit the latest and most interesting news worthy stories. This is your community newspaper, we are always looking for local stories that interest you.

> Read More Information About Us
> More Articles Written By Our Staff