Saturday, January 24, 2009

No One Can Serve Two Masters

Luke 16:13
“No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon”(μαμωνᾷ - Mamona).


Definition from Encarta
“Mammon, in the Bible, a personification of wealth and greed as a false god. Mammon was a Syrian god of riches. In the New Testament, Mammon is used in opposition to the Christian god (see Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:13)”.


If you are reading this blog, you have a computer. Look around at all of the conveniences of our society. This is the world we live in. We may believe we are not serving ‘Mammon’. But, every day, we get up and place one foot in front of the other to get ourselves in gear to serve someone, all for the sake of monetary gain.

Several times, I have thought “I’d like a way out of this system. Maybe my wife and I can live among the Amish and learn their way of life. Would they accept us?” But, then, I think “I just can not live like that”.

These thoughts have been on my mind a lot, recently.
In this economy, I’m lucky to have a job! I’m a plumber. I resigned, into a recession from a company I had been with for two and a half years. Since then, I have had three employers. Most recent, I work with a small company who has found its niche, working in the off hours and on weekends.

In order to continue living among the wealth of toys and technology, where, when I need something, I pay someone for it; I must work off hours and weekends. I have become frustrated in having to sacrifice time with family and being able to have time for studying the Bible. I can’t find time to do work around the house. I’m constantly being called out when I am on call or not on call. And, I must go if I am going to be a part of the team. And, besides that, I am on commission. The economy does not allow me to make enough money during normal work hours, so off I go at 10 minutes to 10pm to help someone who is wealthy enough that they will not wait until normal work hours to clear a main line sewer blockage. Or, they will not wait until Monday, when it is Friday at 7:30pm, to have me fix a leak on a trap under their kitchen sink (Put a bucket under it! My mother and grandmother are in town!). And that parenthetical statement does not, at all reflect how grateful I am to have someone believe they have an emergency. Not reflective of who I want to serve and whom I actually do serve.

I want to serve the Lord, but our monetary system reminds me that I have to divide my time among work and working for the Lord.

I know there are many multitudes of people in the same position I am in. But, how did we get here?
I imagine;
"Sometime after Adam and Eve, a plot of land grew apple trees. Someone else’s land grew wheat. The person with wheat needed the vitamins from apples, (An apple a day keeps the doctor away) so he was forced to make an unbalanced trade. Here, he had to decide, ‘ I can either go along with it, or, I can try and take it.’ And so, the monetary system was born".


All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. - Acts 2:44-47


In my opinion, I believe what occurred among the Christians of the first generation is exactly what God had intended for us. What you read in Acts 2:44-47 is a model for community. I won’t say, “we will never get there”. I believe we are on our way; but not by our volition. I think the only way the human family will ever live as a community in the sense of Acts 2, is by necessity. What we are now, is a society.

I continue to imagine much pain before we see a Biblical existence of community.

I confess my rebellion. I know there exist a community of believers in Christ who live as a self – sustaining people. However, I am too stubborn and proud to go. Unable to go, even if I were willing. I've grown accustom to live among the toys and the many people who struggle to play hard, pretending to progress toward gain, hoping to find want for nothing.

What next?

21 comments:

Vicki said...

Dearest,
This is such an honest post of your daily struggles of the bondage of needing to work for a living. You are not as selfish and worried about toys as you seem to say. I think you are concerned about keeping the job and paying the bills. You are responsible.

I like the scriptures you chose.
First, we can't serve 2 masters. One will take over our mind and heart, either God (goodness, purity, kindness, giving) or Satan (evil, sin, things). We must chose the way of Holiness, but I am convinced we must pray and cling to the Holy Spirit who enables us to do more than we can on our own.
Second, even though we do not live in a communist state of all things belong to all of us, we, as Christians, are willing to give up things, and our own agendas to accomodate others.
Finally your honest struggle is called working out your salvation - your daily walk.

I love you, Jim. We missed church last week because you were on call for work. This was a difficult sacrifice. We both really are looking forward to worship and fellowship.

Always,
Vicki

jeleasure said...

Thanks Hun,
It was nice to have a day where my plans consisted of not having plans.
Yep! Church tomorrow!
Love, your husband.

Greg said...

Hi, Jim! I know exactly what you mean, in your struggles to balance work and family, and put bread on the table. Remember that part of the curse that God placed on Adam was that the soil would yield her fruit only by the sweat of his brow. I think that's one part of the curse that does not go away, when we give our hearts to the Lord. And upon further reflection, I think we need it, else we tend to get too complacent. I think it is good for man to strive, so that we may better appreciate our dependence on God.

On the other hand, it is important for us to do the Lord's work. I often have a hard time with that, since I have so many interests, as well as job and family responsibilities.

We have a lot of toys at our house, and even though I don't see us as excessive, I like having a good enough income that I don't worry about our finances much... although my job is up in the air, at the moment (more on that later, perhaps).

jeleasure said...

Hi Greg!

I was beginning to think you have lost interest in blogging. However, I am not the one to call the kettle 'black'.

"Remember that part of the curse that God placed on Adam was that the soil would yield her fruit only by the sweat of his brow. I think that's one part of the curse that does not go away, when we give our hearts to the Lord. And upon further reflection, I think we need it,"

That is a good point you make there. I have recently considered that this curse was not as if God was saying, "Hocus pocus. You will work by the sweat of your brow". However, the scripture is multi layered and your interpretation certainly does seem to apply.

Concerning jobs being up in the air; I have not met anyone, recently who does not feel this is a possibility for their position, as well. I feel this way and I work on commission.

Thanks for the visit. I will keep my eyes open for some new stuff from you. Also, we need to work on visiting the profiles and pull in some recruits for our network. The team is dropping like flys.

Have you noticed, I changed my email address?

Jim
Jim

Gigi said...

Oh wow...I'm sorry you're dealing with this Jim. I can imagine the inner "tug of war" when a work call interferes with worship time.

I often felt the same tug when my nursing career got in the way of church time. It's a difficult one to resolve internally. I came to grips with it for myself when I realized that I could mirror Christ for my patients by caring for them compassionately in their time of health crisis. So when I had to work on days when I should have been and would have liked to have been in church, I saw my shift as my worship time.

Colossians 3:23-24 says: "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving."

I pray you were able to enjoy worship service today uninterrupted...and that you have a blessed week.

jeleasure said...

Thanks Gigi.

Yes, we should be doing everything as if we are doing it for the Lord.

I did have a weekend for once, in the last eight weeks that I did not have to go out on call. Thank goodness. I visited with my in-laws and had some home time with my wife. And went to church yesterday.
Jim

preacherman said...

Your post is great.
Thank you brother for challenging me to serve God in everything. You and your blog is such a source of strength and encouragement. I hope that all believers will start serving one master. Imagine what we could accomplish if that were so. I hope you and vicki have a great week!

Jody said...

Hi Jim,
I'm on the other end of the spectrum because my husband is a pastor and I am heavily involved in the church. He does get a day off, but usually uses it to recuperate from preaching two services in the am, teaching ss, and and evening service. And on call 24/7 Praying for you that this struggle is resolved in your heart and mind.

jeleasure said...

Preacher Man,
Thanks for the visit.

My work has kept me from my blogging, which actually translates to study time. I have made very good use out of this computer. As my former land lady said in reference to the computer, "The devil can not have everything". This past weekend was just what I needed; plans to have no plans at all.

Now, I will tell you as I am about to tell Jodi, I would much rather have the burden of doing what I love. That is to fellowship and study. For yourselfe and Jodi, the Lord has commanded that you take a rest from doing His work. I wish my boss would command that of me. But, as Gigi wrote to me from Colossians 3:23-24, "What ever you do, work at it with all of your heart as one working for the Lord". That is a hard thing to consider when you feel someone else is playing the despot.

I know I must work. I was not born Amish and I don't imagine that I would ever transition without resenting the culture. So, the simplicity of the life style will never come to me.

Thanks for your continued presence in my life. I thank you that you even remember my wife's name.

jeleasure said...

Hi Jody,
You do know that God commands a day to rest. But, how do you do that when in fact, the very day you are to rest is the busiest of all days?

That is how I know the Sabbath is any given day of rest. Just one day a week.

I could not dispise my business if it were for ministry. It is the lack of fellowship, study and family that causes me to resent my employment. I do believe things will change for me. I've complained enough and my bosses are Christians. I keep you posted.
Jim

Arlene Kasselman said...

Jim
this is a good post that requires the reader to really reflect. You may have read through some of my older posts and know that we have struggled with this tension also.

I am teaching Acts currently and this picture of community is beautiful although I don't believe it lasted very long.

Have you read much of Shane Claiborne or Ron Sider. Powerful reading which will add to the struggle. Yikes!

Greg said...

Hey, Jim. I actually did notice that folks in our circle are getting fewer comments. I'm hoping it's a temporary thing, that will pass with the end of the holidays.

I got your message about the new e-mail, and kept it, in case I ever want to e-mail you directly. Thanks! Ironically, we just recently switched to Comcast, because they bought out our old provider. Doesn't affect my Blogger e-mail though, because I use a separate provider for that.

As for me, besides just being busy with things beyond my control (i.e. edicts from my loving wife), my desire to blog waxes and ebbs. I'm doing much better now that I'm using Blogger, where it's easier to add posts, and there are wonderful people like you who leave comments and help encourage me to keep going.

Job-wise, I've been officially laid off, but (1) it's not until the end of October, (2) the severance package is very generous, and (3) there are openings inside the company, that I've applied for. So, things are looking good, and God is very much in control and blessing us. Now if I can just convince myself that I don't need new toys....

jeleasure said...

Hi Arlene,
I do recall reading that you were struggling with something. Would you send the link to the particular post you are referencing, here;

You may have read through some of my older posts and know that we have struggled with this tension also.

To answer,

Have you read much of Shane Claiborne or Ron Sider. Powerful reading which will add to the struggle. Yikes!


Yikes!
No, I have heard of Sean Claiborne recently. I believe it may have been through Alan Knox's blog. Maybe Tamela. I can't remember.
The bad thing is, I now have time to read and write. But, what generally happens, is, I find myself involved in something and I get called away. Then, I never get back to it.
I think the authors you are referencing will be on my list of books to check out at the Seminary Library.
Thanks. Also, I think I need to visit your blog while I have an opportunity.
Jim

jeleasure said...

Hi Greg,
I'll tell you what we should do.
Upon suggestion from each of us; we ought to visit one another's blog list and say, Jim or Greg said we should visit. Then just be honest about why we are doing this, "To stimulate interaction between bloggers". We can at least give that a shot.
Your job sounds like a cake walk. They gave you nine months to find a new position! Incredible! Good luck. Sounds tuff;).
If only we could be Amish. Then we would not have toys :( Can't do it. Nope. I confess, I am a rebel.

satire and theology said...

'I have become frustrated in having to sacrifice time with family and being able to have time for studying the Bible. I can’t find time to do work around the house. I’m constantly being called out when I am on call or not on call. And, I must go if I am going to be a part of the team. And, besides that, I am on commission. The economy does not allow me to make enough money during normal work hours, so off I go at 10 minutes to 10pm to help someone who is wealthy enough that they will not wait until normal work hours to clear a main line sewer blockage.'

Yes, a sign of tough economic times. I reason I will need to find one good job and stick with it as long as possible.

We must serve God only, and find ways to make a living within that service.

I have a new post.

Russ

jeleasure said...

Thanks Russ,
I'll visit your new post.
Jim

Gigi said...

Jim, for some reason this post has been weighing heavy on my mind. In fact, I woke up thinking about it...

You left a comment on my blog that your job is "just plumbing." I don't think any of us are "just" anything!

My Pastor gave a wonderful sermon this past Sunday about praying for others. One of the things he said was that the Bible tells us we are the "salt of the earth." And just like salt makes one thirsty, when we present ourselves as Christians, we make the unsaved thirst for what we have - salvation through Jesus Christ.

So Jim, just go about your business tending to your customer's plumbing needs. You never know who is really thirsting for what you "have." Just continue being the hands and feet of Jesus...

I'm so very tired, so I hope what I've written makes sense!

Farrah said...

Thank you for sharing the information about Mammon! I didn't know that. Very interesting. I love learning things like that to make the Bible more understandable.

I'm not sure God calls all of us to live in a self-sustaining Christian community. Some perhaps, but not all. He has many, many jobs to be done and many different kinds of people with different resources and backgrounds to do them. Every age has its blessings and challenges. In this age we have the internet as a tremendous resource for fellowship and sharing the gospel. It is also a tremendous tool of Satan and a major time waster for some. It all depends on how we use our resources. Our time, talents, and all must be to the glory of God. This can be done even as an off-hours plumber. Jesus is worthy of our love and adoration. When we put Him first, all else falls into place.

Blessings! (I should be visiting more regularly now that our busiest time of year is past.)

jeleasure said...

Thanks for the comments. Also, thanks for letting us know you will be more available. The winter is time consuming in my occupation as is this season for you.

I entirely agree with you. Because this world is diverse, God needs workers to be among those who are living with out Him. Though, I have a belief that God's desire for the entire Human family is to live as a community. Don't know when that will happen.

Jim

Nitewrit said...

Jim,

I've been giving your post a lot of thought and I want to comment, but I think I will do it as a post when I finish my current ones on Peter.

I had read greg's job situation and thoiught I might do something about my own past job situations. Your comments and that kind of fit together and so I will combine them in some posts.

Larry e.

jeleasure said...

Thanks Larry,
I'm still waiting to get to the problem of Peter.
I don't think I've ever given it any real consideration as to what Peter lacked.
Jim