Everyday Life

[1 Cor. 10:31].---'Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.'

We all know that the aim and end of the Christian life is set forth by these words of St. Paul. That is the ideal, and though we almost tremble as we look at the ideal, we cannot deny it, and we dare not fling it aside. When we say that Christ is all in all, we mean that the Christian life sould be all in all, that in every department and chamber of it, Christian thought should rule, and that through every window of it, from the cellar to attic, a sacramental light should shine.

Now, of course, our actual Christian life falls far below this. The best of us have to confess that our life is split up into two parts, which have often little in common. Our sanctuary life is full of devotion and faith, while our life in the world is crowded with common cares and has little of heavenly light upon its countenance. We read in the old story that the land into which the Israelites were brought was a land of valleys and hills, of low levels and high levels, and nowhere any broad stretch of elevated table land. That was of a piece with their religious experience, and it is not an unfit picture of ours. We spend most of our time in the valleys, and only visit the hills, like worn and exhausted city dwellers, to reinvigorate our drooping spiritual forces. There is something in the ordinary Christian life, of busy men at least, which reminds us of those soldier-bishops of the Middle Ages who one day donned their coats of mail and flung themselves into the awful scrimmage, fighting like very fiends for carnal spoil, and the next day were kneeling in white vestments before the altar, with calm apostolic faces, and words of love and mercy on their lips. There are times when we could do and suffer all things for Christ, when we would sell all that we have to secure His favor ; and other times when the feeblest sneer is sufficient to make us totally deny Him, and the smallest temptation enough to break the back of our faith. These variations come in a measure to all.

Christ asks for a sort of omnipresence in the life of faith. His spirit seeks admission everywhere. His power avails for the details of life, as well as for its great priciples and actions. The tremendous forces of gravitation and attraction which keep the whole solar system in poise bind the particles of a grain of sand in beautiful cohesion. Going through some factories you can see a engine at work, so beautifully arranged that while it raises the hoist and drives all the great machinery, it performs also the most trivial duties, oiling itself in every part, by its own power, and dropping almost invisible drops upon almost invisible wheels, to make them move smoothly and noiselessly. And the Savior intended Himself to be a power like that, mighty enough to strenghten us for the heaviest burdens, and forify us for the severest duties, yet humbling itself to oil and smooth our lowest actions, and to glorify the most insignificant details of life.

Let us see, then, the Christian ideal in everyday life. Our daily work is by Divine commandment. It is not something that God allows us to do when we are not worshipping. It is His ordinance that we should all work at something---'Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work.' And the man who is inexcusably idle, or who belittles his work, even in the intrest, as he thinks, of religion, is breaking this commandment as truly as he who neglects the other half of it and dishonors the Day of Worship.

No one will accuse the Apostle Paul of any indifference or lukewarmness where true religion was concerned. Yet it was this Apostle who ordered the Thessalonians to go on with their daily occupations even though they believed, as so many did at that time, that the return of the Lord to earth was just at hand. By our daily work we serve the Lord as truly as when we gather to His worship. The Lord's own life is the everlasting model of this. For thirty years He worked at His trade as a carpenter. If only we would let that fact soak into us, it would alter our whole idea of the relation of our daily work to religion. Jesus worked Himself. And we have interesting indirect proof as to what manner of life He lived on those workaday levels that we all know so much about. For to the Carpenter of Nazareth there came a day when in Nazareth itself, He stood forth as representative of a morality and religion higher than ever was proclaimed before. He spoke as one having authority to men about the true way to live. And there were many who so resented what they deemed His presumption that anything that reflected on His claims or belittled His authority would gladly have been seized upon and made the most of. Had there been in Nazareth a door of unseasoned wood or a badly made chest, would it not have been produced to discredit His mission? If any one could have been found with whom the Carpenter had not dealt honorably and justly, if there had been anything that weakened His caim to guide and teach His brethren, would they not have found it out and taxed Him with it? But there was nothing of that. Jesus faced His with His daily duty behind Him, and it reinforced every word He said. He spoke of religion as no other son of man ever did, but He lived it before He ever opened His mouth. He brought religion down to the workshop and the street, and showed men what it meant there. Well may the Moravians pray in their litany, 'May the precious sweat of Thy labor lighten our toil,' and again, 'May Thy faithfulness in Thy handicraft make us faithful in our share of labor.'

Our daily work is sanctified by the fact that our Lord and Master is with us, to help and strengthen us there, as truly as when we pray. Jesus Christ is not far away from us amid the dust of business, when we must keep our temper and follow conscience along the hard way, and deal honorably with all men. He is near us there also, ready and willing to help us to be true to God and man on that road which once He trod Himself.

As we follow the story of our Lord's life we see this great principle in action. We are at a loss to say which of His deeds and words were more and which were less religious. No such divisions as sacred and secular are to be found here. He had no high and low levels alternating. It was all exalted. He gave thanks when He took bread, and when He lifted children in His arms, and when He sat at meat with publicans and sinners. He seems to have been as near to heaven when He plucked ears of corn, or watched a woman leavening meal, or looking on a field of lilies, or had a coin from the fish's mouth dropped into the imperial treasury, as when kneeling in prayer on the mountain side or teaching in the Temple. He was doing His Fathers business when, as a boy, He questioned the doctors, and when, as a man, He sat at a wedding feast, as surely as when He healed diseases, spoke His immortal words of wisdom to the disciples, or drank the cup in Gethsemane. His life had no varying degrees of holiness. It was all on the same high level. And even St. Paul, according to his human measure, reached this uniformitiy of Christian thought and service. It has often been a surprise to readers of his Epistles to find in the very midst of his most sublime discourses references to what we should deem small and worldly matters ; such, for instance, as the food and drink which it will be good for the sick Timothy to take ; such as his own occupation of tent- making, or the cloak and parchment which he left at Ephesus, and which he begs that they will send him. There seems to be an incogruity between these trivial things and the noble and heavenly regions of thought in which his mind is moving. But there was no incogruity to him, because he had learned to look upon every action of his life as a religious act. The name of the Lord was written upon them all. The spirit and motive exalted them. They were all done to the glory of God.

In Christ, Timothy. Maranatha