The Four Lives of The Church: Part – 3 The Life of Labor

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by Bishop Joseph Gregory D’Souza
Acceptance speech delivered at his consecration as the Bishop & Moderator of the Good Shepherd Community Church on 30th August 2014.


A Word from George Verwer

gverwer

How I wish I could have been there when Bishop Joseph D’Souza gave this great and important message. I am so glad it is now it print and pray it can get wide circulation.This message is historic, visionary, relevant, encouraging and a must read for all us who love in India. Read it.We thank God for the rapid development and impact of the Church in India. We rejoice that the work of OM going back to 1964 has grown into this great church movement now known as the Good Shepherd Church of India and that Bishop and Moderator Joseph D’Souza continues to carry this great
leadership responsibility of the Church and its associated ministries.
My blessing is with this great work of God in India.
George Verwer,
Founder & Former International Director,
Operation Mobilisation



The Four Lives of The Church: Part – 3 The Life of Labor

The next life of the church is a favorite theme of Professor Kancha Ilaiah’s thought. He writes that India’s transformation is possible only through the dignity of labor, the “Life of Labor”.

The monastic movements recognized that all labor is holy and sacred, including the cleaning of toilets, farming and carpentry. These movements engaged in a daily life of fruitful labor. It is only later that the church got corrupted and some took to a life of luxury and no work.

Everyone here would agree with me when I state that India is one of the dirtiest countries in the world. But ironically, Indians are clean, we keep our houses clean and we bathe at least once a day when water is available.

But then outside of our homes, the country is dirty. We throw dirt outside of our houses. We expect others to clean up our dirt and filth and we think cleaning toilets is an impure work.

So our present Prime Minister gives the call for building toilets across the nation. It is a great call. The church should cooperate with him on this as this is mission.

However, it is interesting to know whom the Prime Minister had in mind to clean up the toilets. I hope we don’t expect Dalits to clean all these toilets.

India needs to learn that all labor is holy and all labor is profitable. God dignifies labor by saying He works. Jesus says that His Father works and so does He.

Our country needs a new work ethic. Our civil servants must arrive in time for work not because they fear the Prime Minister, but because it is part of their work ethic. We are in desperate need of a new work ethic, of new dignity of labor in this nation. The curse of the caste system is that it took away the dignity of labor.

Here, I am talking about physical work, cleaning, farming, fishing, leather works and industrial work. We won’t all be engineers and doctors or civil servants. I say this with care.

The early church movements dignified and deified labor. All work was worship and this had huge impact on cultures where the Christian faith took roots.

So I would not be wrong if I stated that President Obama would not think it beneath his dignity to clean his own toilet or that of his family members. A Pope or Bishop would not think that cleaning toilets is beneath his dignity.

This is like any other kind of work: divine. This line of thinking came through the life of labor in the church. This is straight from the mind of Jesus who Himself was a carpenter for most of His adult life.

The other issue related to labor is the problem of unemployment. This is a huge Christian and church concern. The man who is not employed soon falls apart. The emotional damage is severe. Young people without jobs rebel. Revolutions are born when there is no employment.

This is because work gives purpose and meaning to life. We find worth in our work. This is why calling any labor dirty is a horrible crime.

I love work and I sometimes accused of being a workaholic. That is fine with me. I would rather overwork than not work. I derive my understanding of work from the Bible and the life of the church.

In doing work, I am true to how God created me as a human person. It gives meaning to my life. My God is always at work.

The Good Shepherd Church has this vision and commitment to this cultivation of the life of labor across this nation.

+Joseph D’Souza
Bishop Moderator,
The Good Shepherd Church & Associated Ministries India.
(for feedback or comments please write to joseph.dsouza@gsoim.org)