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The most crucial work of all is perhaps the least respected.
What a year! The most Googled news items in 2020 include coronavirus, murder hornet, Australia fires, and—at number four in the rankings—unemployment. Within the vein of unemployment, another question was on people’s minds: “Am I an essential worker?” What is the most essential work you can take part in?
According to the United States Department of Homeland Security, essential workers are “those who conduct a range of operations and services that are typically essential to continue critical infrastructure operations.” That definition may seem vague or even circular, but it describes those without whom society could not function. Health care professionals and food service workers provide two very obvious examples of essential workers. Such individuals’ selfless efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic are rightly praised. After all, making sacrifices for the good of others and living a life of service are fundamental Christian principles.
The media has given us many “feel good” stories about heroic front-line workers, making their sometimes-underappreciated efforts visible to us all. Yet there is another aspect of our infrastructure that has largely been ignored, or even attacked, by some of the same individuals tasked with maintaining the public health and functionality of our society. Shockingly, whether by overreaching legislators or by citizens seeking absent answers, Christianity has widely been declared non-essential.
While casinos, cannabis shops, and gun stores are classified under the broad umbrella of “critical infrastructure operations,” much religious activity has been declared irrelevant or even undesirable. In today’s charged climate, even calling for a day of prayer and fasting has become controversial. Is it any wonder that division, dissent, and animosity are growing around the world? The Work of God is ignored in favor of human solutions, which often come with unintended consequences—and sometimes these are worse than the initial problem.
This is all the more saddening because the Bible offers real answers that make sense. The God of the Bible explains the natural consequences that come when we misuse His creation. The cause-and-effect relationships outlined in the Bible serve as warnings about many of the issues we see today (cf. Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 28). It is no wonder that Jesus Christ prophesied that there would be wars, racial tensions, famines, disease epidemics, earthquakes, and many more sorrows before His return (Matthew 24).
But will 2021 be different? Will we stop eating animals that, as our Creator long ago explained, were not designed for human consumption? Will we again acknowledge that a biological man who wants to “be a woman” is someone in need of help other than surgery—just as anorexics need food rather than diet pills to cure their condition? Will we acknowledge that it is not within mankind to direct its steps (Jeremiah 10:23) and that we desperately need the guidance of One who loves us and is truly good?
The good news is that better times are coming—while each day society seems to fall deeper into darkness, we can take heart that it is always darkest just before the dawn. After all of the turmoil Christ prophesied in Matthew 24 finally does come to pass, He will return to establish the Kingdom of God on earth. At that time, those who today are taking part in the most essential Work in the universe—proclaiming the true message of the Gospel—will serve under their Savior to help heal the world, in part by answering the question of why God allows devastating pandemics to happen. These individuals, whom the Bible calls the “firstfruits,” will teach the laws of God and the Way that leads to life.
The world is in desperate need of this message of hope, this essential Work. Will you be a part of getting this message out? Will you be an essential worker?