Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Fine Whine

Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation. Philippians 2:14-15a

Working at a blue-collar establishment this summer has given me a new appreciation for people who go about their business without complaining. Every day, my ears are filled with whines from my co-workers about topics ranging from our boss (a personal friend of mine) to the government and then on to topics I can't mention on this blog.

My supervisor is notorious around different jobsites for his contentious attitude. When he comes around, the question is not whether conflict will arise, but rather, to what height the conflict will escalate. Sometimes he's loudly lambasting other companies getting for behind on their work and slowing us down. Other times he's covertly confiding in me about the shortcomings of the other employees at our company. I nod and try my best to be polite, but it's hard for a me, someone who's trying to follow Christ, to feel sympathy for someone who is so self-centered that he can't even begin to empathize with others, either about work or about their personal lives.

When Paul said "Do everything without complaining," he was writing to the church at Philippi. I don't know too much about the health of the church, but I do know that Paul spent half of the small epistle focusing on humility as the ticket to unity within the church. That should tell us something. It's the nature of humans to bicker, because it's our nature to be self-centered. As one of my co-workers said today in conversation, "we all want our own way a lot of the time."

On jobsites, the company representing each trade worries about its own work. When talking about the project, no one says "our building." They say "my pipe" or "your duct," but they never acknowledge that whether they like it or not, they're working together to build something, and they're going to have to cooperate to avoid chaos.

Sometimes we're like that in the church. We're trying to build something, the kingdom of God, but we're all looking at different blueprints, and we're complaining about those who aren't matching our agenda. Paul says that complaining and arguing are sins that keep us from becoming righteous and hinder us from showing the nature of Christ to the world. If we keep our gripes to ourselves, we show that we can put others first, and we show the world that we are content in Christ.

By keeping our attitudes like Christ's we won't be laboring in vain.

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