Back in the 80’s there was a popular bumper sticker that said, simply, “Question Authority”. It was a rallying cry for a new generation of rebels. These days, after generations of American rebels, it’s not really clear what there is to rebel against. Our society seems exhausted. We’ve been pushing the rock up the hill, turning the hamster wheel, insert the metaphor of your choosing, but we labor and work towards a goal that is undefined and lies just beyond our reach. We rebel against an “authority” antagonist of our own making and then question it for answers it cannot provide.
Questions are the beginning of wisdom as long as they are the pursuit of knowledge towards purpose. Christians believe that Jesus Christ was God incarnate, meaning an actual perfect being. If they are right, how could he not possess every answer to every question. And yet, in the records we have of his life and his “career” (after all, this is a Theology of Work column), he asked over 300 questions. Jesus asked questions that we might begin working towards a purpose. The question asked was designed to convict, cajole, illuminate, but it always required the one being asked to participate. Questions are the beginning of proper work and that work done in this life is the beginning of true wisdom.
If we seek wisdom, then we should allow the Authority to question us! Strange and yet true. So last week we introduced the fundamental questions: Who, what, when, where, why, and how. These are the questions that ground us, that keep us from pitfalls like situational ethics, compartmentalization and their ilk. Present your task, whether its macro such as “my life” or micro like an upcoming work seminar, to the authority and let it ask you the questions. Your answers after reflection will seem in some cases strange to you and your work preparation will seem to be something very close to prayer. An old dictum that helps here is called The Rule of St. Benedict. The “rule” was “Orare est Laborare, Laborare est Orare” translated means “to pray is to work, to work is to pray”.
Allow yourself to be asked the questions at every turn and see how meaningful your work and your life will become. You will be formed and your formation will be the purpose and the goal of every work you put your hand to. This is the third and final post on the introduction of our Theology of Work. Next week, we’ll dig in!