My first job on active duty in the Air Force was as a crewmember on a B-52 bomber at a base in Northern Maine. Our mission was to deter nuclear war by being prepared to strike targets in the Soviet Union. Nuclear alert was boring duty, punctuated by the terror of practice drills that would send us to the planes and prepare to launch. What made it even harder was that the winters were long, the snow was deep, and the base was a couple hundred miles from a shopping mall.
Military life by necessity involves practicing over and over for something you hope never happens. It can get tedious. The thing that I most remember about that job was that almost no one wanted to be there.
The whining was overwhelming.
What got me through those years was knowing that what we were doing was really important because it was keeping the nation safe.
This Labor Day Weekend, the Bible passage from Ephesians 6 I’m planning to preach about involves slaves being encouraged to work hard and serve their masters with sincerity and respect. It’s hard for us to imagine. Shouldn’t slaves be trying to subvert their masters?
To be sure, the kind of slavery the Bible talks about was not the race-based slavery known in the West in the 18th and 19th centuries. It took human beings, led by Christians, way too long to end that.
Rather, this passage is about work and the God who gave us work as a gift to build up God’s good creation. Whatever we do, we do it for a higher purpose. Whatever we do, it’s ultimately for God and not just for others or even for ourselves.
How hard would we work if we really believed that work was God’s gift to us?