Word for the Week
Short reflections on Bible passages, with a frontline focus...
Even tax collectors came to be baptised. ‘Teacher,’ they asked, ‘what should we do?’
‘Don’t collect any more than you are required to,’ he told them.
Then some soldiers asked him, ‘And what should we do?’
He replied, ‘Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely – be content with your pay.’
What should you do?
As we reflect on our walk with God over Lent, and the cost of his Son’s walk with the Father, his word to us may not only lead us to repentance, but also to a desire to live more wholly for him.
That’s what leads three sets of people to ask John the Baptist: ‘What should we do?’
He tells the crowds to be generous to the poor. His response to the tax collectors and soldiers is similar, but not at all what they might have expected. They were, after all, seen as collaborators with the unholy, and wholly unwanted, invaders of the holy land – traitors if they are Israelites, enemies if not.
John’s response was radical then. And it’s radical today. The tax collectors and soldiers were no doubt expecting to be told to have nothing to do with Rome – to leave their jobs. John’s response eschews such narrow nationalism. And, indeed, the superficial judgmentalism and disdain that has characterised some Christians’ attitudes to a myriad of jobs: advertising, banking, big business, mainstream music, film, politics…
Indeed, Luke’s Gospel is constantly asking us not to prejudge people by race, gender, or occupation – from tax collectors to Zacchaeus, Samaritans to Canaanites, soldiers to the centurion of great faith. But, the question still stands for each of us, whatever our work. What shall we do in our work in response to the Lord who saved us?
Yes, we are called to be generous with what we earn, and just and fair in how we earn it, careful not to exploit others through the power we may have – whether that is the big purchasing power of a large business that squeezes suppliers’ margins or pays late, or the soft power of brilliant salesmanship, or firecracker communications that don’t ultimately have the customer’s interests at heart.
What will you do? Ask the Lord to show you how the good news of Jesus might change the way you do your particular work, the way you get your kids’ stuff ready for school, the way you treat staff, and the way you serve a skinny latte on a cold Monday morning to a traveller who you know you will never see again.
Mission Champion, LICC