Faith at Work XVI

November 2005

How often do we find stories in the biblical record about Jesus in church arranging liturgy or having concern for growing congregations; not much really. More often, we find him out in the world alongside others working as a medical practitioner healing people's ailments or as an educator expounding the scriptures and interpreting the law. He gets close to those who are sometimes regarded as "beyond the pale", an idea that Archbishop William Temple developed by saying that the church is the only organisation that exists for the benefit of those who are not its members.

Many of the parables of Jesus have their roots in the workplace, in contexts and ways that the people he met would have been familiar with and there are quite a number with a financial bias. I expect you remember the parable of the unforgiving servant who, on being released from his debt and forgiven by his master, immediately went and demanded with menaces what he himself was owed by his fellow servants. When his master came to hear of this unsympathetic action, he called him back for similar treatment until he should pay (Matthew 18:23-35).

It reminded me of a similar story I had heard at the Science Park where a company had issued invoices and not been paid in the past without much delay and fuss. When the supplier changed her tactics to "cash on delivery", the customer was furious about this change of approach and wouldn't listen to the supplier's need to balance her books as well, especially with the year end accounts coming up. After some discussion and for the sake of good will, she agreed that the customer could pay at his own convenience a modern day parable about building relationships and co-operating with one another.

A similar principle is recorded in the old Jewish tradition of Jubilee, where "you shall hallow the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty to all its inhabitants" (Leviticus 25:10). It was accompanied by return to family and property, a way of restoring balance to the community and enabling fresh starts for all. Some of this featured in the Jubilee 2000 campaign to have the major economic powers release the poorest countries from unpayable debt and eternal dependence; it is surprising what benefits arise when compassion and concern for the other take precedence over normal rules or behaviour. As Saint Francis famously said:

It is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

This site was developed to contain work by Mike Fox relating to the WMMTC course
and subsequent experience during ministry in the parish of Codsall and the BCUIM.
This page was last updated on 2005-09-30

Copyright 2005 Mike Fox
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