Monday Musings for September 04, 2017

Good morning, Musers… and happy Labor Day!

One of the things I miss about being immature is thinking I could be only one thing… which makes the mature me laugh. How many people do you know belong to the opposite political party… yet believe a lot of the same things you do? Many, I’m sure. And even within those political parties, it’s axiomatic that you have to court people from the other side to win. This drives the extremists nuts, of course… but it can leave the rest of us with a bit of an identity crisis.

For example, I’m a fiscal conservative who wants as little government as possible and as much a laissez-faire economy as possible. But I’m no fool. I understand that corporate leaders are under pressure to place their business interests over the good of society. This is why “we the people” allow our government to regulate businesses — even at the cost of additional bureaucracy. But “we the believers” can take heart; the Bible tells us that it’s okay for the government to collect taxes. After all, it needs resources to protect us (Romans 13:3-7)… and I see commerce as an area where we need that protection.

But there’s another (sort of) “regulatory agency” that has stepped up to help working people: organized labor — and we celebrate labor today. I’m a thirty-year union member (mostly of the IBEW), and all those years I’ve been a committed Christian — ever watchful over my associations — and I repudiate the idea that labor organizations are socialistic or communistic.

In any large movement, there will factions that represent almost every imaginable position — and there are some in the labor movement who are over near its socialist and communist edges. But in the main, today’s union members are just men and women looking for job security — and when necessary — a reasonable redress of their grievances.

But this self-interest is the logical extension of individualism, not socialism. You see, both labor and socialism have their tells. Labor understands that it has the ability to bargain because it has value based on a free market. But socialism and communism believe they can assign value to assets (and also assign ownership to assets) … and the world is littered with the failures of these “elite thinkers.”

Here’s the problem: all people are sinners… and this includes government workers, the elite thinkers, business people and Christians. But just as God has built into us a capacity for morality and a capacity for language, so he has set up the world to work as a natural economy. Goods and services find their own value here on earth — and messing with what God hath wrought rarely pays dividends.

So, here I stand… a fiscal conservative, government minimalist, laissez-faire economist, union member… and all the while, a believer in Jesus Christ — and as you can imagine, my life has been under some tension over the years… but unnecessarily so. There are too many Christian conservatives who wrongly assume that today’s workers should comport themselves according to the master/slave teachings in the Bible. But that’s wrong-headed. A laborer today is under a contract agreement… and that’s quite a different thing; it’s more like being a hired laborer in a vineyard… the wages of which, God himself watches over.

“For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing,” and “The laborer is worthy of his wages.” (1 Timothy 5:18, NASB95)

That being said, a Christian should still work hard at whatever he does and work honestly for anyone who hires him. But he doesn’t have to be a fool (except for Christ, 1 Corinthians 4:10) … and organized labor can help maintain the worker’s dignity.

But what about the far future? Will there be labor unions in the eschaton? I hope not! ... because that would indicate that Christ had lost his grip! It will simply be a different world then. Sin will have been dispatched, so humankind will be able to explore its potential without worrying about whether or not we will honor each other’s agreements.

Today’s questioner (from Asia) is trying to identify the prayers mentioned in the far future — in Revelation 5:8. But the problem is that the entire book of Revelation is, by and large, a symbolic representation of God wrapping things up. What, then, is the symbolic significance of prayers in an incense bowl? Can we identify the people who are praying here? … and could they be praying for the dead? No self-respecting evangelical can leave that thought hanging, so we’ll explore this and a few other issues today.

To read the article referenced above, visit the link below.

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