Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Optimism, Work, and the Words of Jesus

Yesterday a colleague and I were talking about all the recent upheavals at work.  I said, "I feel like there's a big picture that I just can't see.  I can see my little piece of it, but I just can't get enough distance for it to make sense."

He said, "You assume there is a big picture, not just chaos."

Well, I have my dark moments when I assume that no one is in charge, or that the people in charge are working at cross purposes.  There are moments when I think I wouldn't like any of their purposes, cross or not.

My work colleague said, "It must be your faith that makes you believe in a big picture."

I thought of that comment for the rest of the day.  Is it my faith?  I would argue that it's not.  I just tend toward optimism.

In fact, I would argue that my religious tradition would warn me against putting any faith at all in the corporation that owns and runs my little school.  That corporation is one of the powers and principalities of this world, as Paul labeled it, and Walter Wink so eloquently described it.  That corporation is at cross purposes with almost everything that Jesus tells me is important.

The words of Jesus echo in my head most loudly when I'm at work.  I hear his advice to the rich, young man who has followed every commandment so carefully.  He's expecting a pat on the back, but Jesus tells him to sell all his goods and follow Jesus, to turn away from the worldly commitments and give himself to Christ.

What if Jesus meant what he said?

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