Mark's Minute 

Aug 31 2017

This week on the blog: how physical work is spiritual work. Or, the church that sweats together, um, no, wait—that’s not going anywhere helpful. But this blog entry will…

This summer, I finished a major project that’s taken me a long time to complete: my dad and I built a tree fort for my kids. (Full disclosure: I still have to build a permanent ladder to replace the temporary one, but for all intents and purposes, it’s done.)

The fort itself is pretty nifty: it’s supported between two massive cedar trees that come out of a ravine on our property, so the front entrance is only about 4 feet off the ground, but there’s about a 30-foot drop off the back.

Don’t worry: my dad designed it, and he’s an engineer, so the structure is very safe.

Now, for some of you building a tree fort wouldn’t be too much of a challenge, but I need you to understand that I work an indoor job with no heavy lifting, and I have very little experience in building things with my hands.

My kids were really excited that the project was done (which is good, because it was way too much work for them not to like it), but I was surprised at how much satisfaction it gave me to see it finished.

I probably won’t spend a lot of time in that tree fort because that would be weird. But despite the fact that I’m not the primary beneficiary of the work, the work itself was gratifying. I stepped back, looked at it, and said, “I actually built that with my hands.” It was a pretty inspiring moment.

Why did I build that tree fort? Why not just pay someone to come in and do it? They might have come up with a better design and done some elaborate things that exceeded my skill set, so the end result might have been better. 

Okay, the main reason I didn’t pay someone to do it is money. But there’s more to it than that. I wanted to build it because then I’d be proud of it and have personal investment in it. I could show my kids that they’re important to me—important enough to put blood (not much, fortunately), sweat (so very much), and tears (mostly from sawdust in my eye) into something for them.

There’s just something about doing the work that rings a bell in my spirit that nothing else can ring.

You probably know where I’m going with this, but let me make it clear. Over the next two Sundays, we’re going to be doing some work at Parkland to take care of some tasks that need to get done. No matter who you are or what skill set you bring, there’s something for you to do.

Why are we doing this? Why not just hire professionals and have them do the work? After all, they’d be able to do things that exceed our skill set, and they might even get the work done faster than we could.

Just like with my tree fort, one of the reasons we’re not doing that is because we wouldn’t be able to afford it. But there’s more to it than that.

As a congregation, we are a spiritual family, and, as I’ve said before, that’s not a metaphor: it’s a fact. We are one body, as the apostle Paul says, and our purpose is to grow in unity so that we’re fully equipped to fulfill the mandate of the kingdom that Jesus has given us.

As a congregation, we’re also called to be faithful stewards of the resources with which we’ve been entrusted: spiritual, financial, and physical. Our building is a precious resource, one that we need to steward well for the good of the kingdom.

These two work days aren’t just about knocking a bunch of tasks off the to-do list. They’re about us exercising gospel stewardship together, as a family. When we work together, we grow together. We learn to trust each other. We learn to appreciate each other.

This is about us being the church. And all of that contributes to the glory of God.

And when we’re done, we’ll have that same feeling of accomplishment, ownership, investment, and appropriate pride in a job well done that I had looking at the tree fort.

I don’t know what the Holy Spirit is going to do as a result of our efforts. He’s under no obligation to do anything. But I believe that by working together and becoming a closer-knit family, we will become the kind of church to whom God is happy to show his favour and blessing.

And that’s a bell that nobody else can ring.