Hard Work

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3rd Sunday in Easter

Hard Work

Grace, Mercy and Peace to you from God our Father and His only Son, Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.

        Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe is a program on the Discovery channel where the host “…offers a look at American men and women with unusual jobs.”[1] The jobs are unusual to be sure; jobs like Worm Dung Farmer, Sewer Inspector, and Alligator Egg Collector. The worst job I can remember having was when I was in eighth grade and worked one summer for a potato farmer.

        How could that be such a terrible job you may ask? Mostly, it was just hard sweaty work, but one day my friend and I were tasked with cleaning out a large underground cellar filled with rotting potatoes. It was dark cave with a smell of moldy rotting potatoes. The potatoes had decayed into mushy, slimy, black piles of thick mud-like consistency. We could not stay in the cellar for long; needing to rush out from the cavern into the sunlight and fresh air. It was one of the worst days at work I can remember.

        We have all experienced bad days at work. We have all had days at our jobs where we daydream about being anywhere else but at our labor. Sometimes we console ourselves by thinking of the worst job in existence that we would not do. We imagine the person who does such a job and think, ‘I am sure glad I am not that guy!’

        It is simply human nature to feel frustrated and to feel a failure. It is human nature to take the path of least resistance and instead of working to build others and ourselves up, we tear everyone around us down. This is our great enemy, Satan, working the evil of sin in us. He uses our weakness against us to break us and bring us to our knees in despair.

        In our present world, we have all been subject to the ‘cancel culture’ that has seeped into our working lives and our personal lives. Being a member of the Christian faith can bring on the derision of others. A Christian can be called intolerant, prejudice, paranoid, hypocritical and afraid.

        This ‘intolerance of the intolerant’ now affects how we live, where we buy and sell and what we are allowed to say. We may even be told that to speak about our religion while at work or in a public forum, may be considered non-inclusive and is to be stifled. The cross of Christ is being removed from public streets and lands.

        A brief look at reports in the media shows the trend

  • High School Football Coach’s Prayer Case Goes Before the Supreme Court
  • Lake Ingle, a religious studies major at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, was kicked out of Christianity class earlier this month for saying there are only two genders. He is now allowed back in.[3]

        One can see how easy it would be not to even try to spread the word of our Lord and Savior when it means ridicule. One can understand why a Christian today may not wish to profess their faith knowing that it may mean their livelihood and thus their lives.

        We all want to succeed. We all want to be the best at what we do… or at least, better than average at what we do. Anyone who works long and hard, only to have that hard work undone because of their faith, will either give up the work or give up the faith. Unless one is a slave, one does not remain in a position of demeaning servitude.

        This may be how the disciples were feeling the night they went out to fish. Remember, they had seen our Risen Savior earlier in the past weeks as they hid away from the world behind locked doors. They were experiencing a major reorganization in their personnel structure.

        Their training period was over. Three years of internship and study under the great master was at an end. It was now time for them to carry on in the manner of their Lord and God, Jesus Christ. And quite a training program it was! Witnessing miracles of healing, teaching and the raising of the dead were all prelude to their own participation in the revelation of the kingdom of heaven on earth.

        The disciples may have been thinking, ‘What have I gotten myself into? This is too much responsibility. I’m not ready. I’m not good enough to be that guy who tells people about Jesus.’ Maybe this is why Peter looks for comfort in his previous line of work, “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” [John 21:3a]

        The disciples were about to head into the world proclaiming the good news about the Messiah. This was an exciting time for them, yet also a frightening time. God himself had come to earth made flesh and blood in Jesus Christ. This Son of God was crucified, died and was buried.

        During his time on earth, people in positions of authority hated Jesus. He was a threat to their power structure. With mere words, this Jesus was undermining the loyalty of the people, and not just the citizenry but also the slaves. How could one maintain control over a slave when they are told they are equal?

        Jesus Christ and his message of his Father’s love were sedition to the Roman ruling class and blasphemy to the religious ruling class. If such a belief system ever took hold, everyone would be having a bad day at work.

        The disciples knew this too. They knew that their lives just got complicated. They all now walked in this world with a target on their backs. On the one hand, this target allowed those in need and want of the words of salvation to see a true disciple and hear their proclamation. On the other hand, this target allowed those who wished to stop the spread of true salvation the means to kill the messengers of the one true way.

        Dying while doing your job would probably be the worst day anyone could think, yet Jesus did it. Walking into work knowing that people want to kill you is what the disciples did also. From the time of the disciples to this very day, people have been calling Christians ‘stupid’ and ‘dumb’. Who in their right mind would go against the majority of the society? What sane person would continue to put themselves in the way of physical, financial and emotional harm for the sake of the Gospel?

        Christians ask those who do not know Christ, ‘Do you know the way?’ The answer is usually short and biting, ‘Of course we know the way! We save ourselves through our works.’ ‘No way could it be through Christ crucified’, they tell us. ‘No way could our salvation be in the resurrection of Jesus.’

        Disciples of Christ are treated as simpletons, and are ridiculed. The message is clear but the minds are clouded. To many, merely casting the net on the other side of the boat brings in the abundant truth, but they refuse to listen to the master fisherman who stands on the shore. Fortunately, it only takes one to say, “It is the Lord!” for others to see him also.

        This is where you and I are called into servitude. We have been called to be fishers of men. We have been chosen to point to Jesus from our boat in the sea and call out, ‘It is the Lord!’ As fishers of men we are servants in Christ.

        The great Adversary, Satan, is working against us every day and in every way. Do not be fooled by those of this world who say they are smarter than Christ and call those who follow his word as ‘foolish’. Satan will never stop rocking the boat. The Devil will always seek a way to tangle our lines and rip holes in our nets. He does not want you to trust in the Lord or bring others into his care. He is the great leviathan, that evil monster of the deep who wishes nothing but to devour all people in sin.

        No matter how seasick we become, we are to continue to fish. No matter how many days and nights we catch nothing, we are to continue to fish. If storm and gale toss us about and tear our sails, we are to continue to fish. Even if the fish themselves attack us and try to pull us into the sea, we are to continue to fish.

        No matter how small the catch or unsatisfactory the work, we must continue to fish because our worst day of fishing is better than eternal life lost in our sea of sin. We know our Redeemer lives; we have seen him in our baptism and in his body and blood of the Holy Supper. He is our strength and our salvation. No matter how much we are tossed about, he will calm the waves with his word.

        We are at sea in this life, yet we can see our Savior waiting for us on the shore. He has prepared a meal for us by a warm fire. He calls to us, “Children, have you caught any fish?” When we answer ‘no’, he tells us not to worry and sends us the Holy Spirit to guide our net.

        With the Holy Spirit, our net finds and fills with a great number of fish. Our Lord then commands us to bring to him the fish we have caught so that we all might enjoy the meal he has prepared for us.

        We are the disciples of our Lord. We too have trained to do this work he has commissioned us to do. At time this can be a dirty difficult job. Some of us may be fishermen of great strength who fight for hours to bring in the big fish. Others may be the skillful fishermen who troll the waters for the quick and elusive fish. Still others may be the ever-patient-and-simple-worm-on-the-hook-in-the-still-waters kind of fishermen. In any case, our goal is the same – to bring others to Christ.

        Take comfort knowing that no matter how great your sin, God’s grace is greater. The Apostle Paul was a great shark killing Christians with zeal, but Jesus pulled him from the water and transformed him into a humble servant of men and of God.

        Likewise, every day you too are being transformed into servants of God and servants of your fellow neighbors. This transformation is the work of the greatest fisher of men, Jesus Christ. For he is the one who was slain and by his blood he ransomed people for God from every tribe, and language and people and nation. [Rev 5.9b]

        And every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, will say,

            “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb

            be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” [Rev 5:13]   Amen!