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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Labor Relations

Are you a person who, at your place of work, has a supervisor, boss, one to whom you are accountable?  Perhaps you are the supervisor.  Some of you are both at the same time.  The Small Catechism points to Ephesians 6:5-9 to show what ought to be the relationship between workers of all kinds and those who supervise.  I wrote the following two hymn stanzas in order to learn, and help teach others, the lesson.

To Workers of All Kinds

Your supervisor is a lord;
Obey him as you would the Lord;
Do more for him than what you must;
Be true to him and earn his trust;
The good you do for him today,
The Lord tomorrow will repay.

To Employers and Supervisors

The same applies: Do not be stern,
But for your workers show concern;
As is the Lord, impartial be;
For good, use your authority;
While diff'rent duties here remain,
To Him on high we are the same.

Now imagine what the workplace could be like if both worker and supervisor were to act in these ways!  God help you to be such a worker or supervisor, or both.

Monday, August 15, 2016

The Author of Our Faith

"...Jesus, the Author and Completer of our faith" (Heb. 12:2).

The Letter to the Hebrews is the only New Testament book to assign no author.  We don't know who wrote it.  Guesses include Barnabas, Luke, Clement of Rome, and Aquila and Priscilla.  Luther suggested Apollos, mentioned for the first time in Acts 18:24.  "But who wrote the epistle," said Origen of Alexandria, "God only knows certainly."  But from this, two things may be said.

One is, isn't it something that the only book not to say who its author is, is the one book to say who the Author of our faith is?  That's the authorship that matters.  "Let us, through endurance, go on running the race set before us, looking to Jesus, the Author and Completer of our faith."  And for the perfect commentary on "Author and Completer," use Philippians 1:6: "He who began (authored) a good work in you will bring it to completion."

Two is, humility.  Whoever wrote Hebrews had a lot to be proud of: understanding, eloquence, heart.  It is said that the letter displays the finest Greek in the New Testament.  And yet they wanted to remain anonymous.  T.S. Eliot wrote: "Many are engaged in writing books and printing them.  Many desire to see their names in print."  When was the last time you saw the most beautiful book but without the author's name?  Answer: The Letter to the Hebrews.

Seek to do beautiful and blessed things, but to receive no earthly credit.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Oyeoflittlefaith

This is the first small devotion I ever wrote, back in 2009.  In fact, the idea of a "small devotion" was inspired by the idea of a "little faith."

In spiritual matters, there is a danger of hearing God scolding us when He is really not.  Of thinking that He is disappointed in us when, in fact, He is speaking to us so very gently and kindly.  Such, I think, is the case with "O ye of little faith."

Sermons on this concept tell us that we should have more faith.  But evidence points to a Lord who has come up with a loving nickname for us: Yeoflittlefaith.  English hides the fact that in Greek it is only one word.  It is used only by Jesus and it is unknown outside the Bible.  It has the look and sound of a nickname.  More than that, a term of endearment and affection.

If you look at the occasions when Jesus uses the term, His followers are anxious, fearful, or confused.*  What kind of Christ would scold people already in this condition?  No, a more tender name for us Christians cannot be found.  He is saying how much we need Him.  Little faith doesn't need more faith.  A little faith needs Christ.

In a way, "O ye of little faith" is a promise that He will never leave, based on the fact that He never could!  And in a mystery, it is a little faith that holds all of Christ.  But perhaps it is more true to say that He holds our little faith as a precious thing to Him - guarding and protecting it.

Remember the little children brought to Jesus?  Bring your little faith to Him.  He will take it, bless it, and say, "To such belongs the kingdom."

Rejoice to be called "Oyeoflittlefaith."

*Matt. 6:30, 8:26, 14:31, 16:8, and Luke 12:28