Week 5: Work and Human Dignity


1.  Is getting a “living wage” a biblical issue?

Watch fast food workers tell their stories of why they are striking to get fair pay:


The combination of part-time work and low wages in the fast-food industry at places like McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Taco Bell etc., create a kind of hell on earth for many fast food workers.  Today, these workers are not the stereotypical teenagers picking up a little extra cash, but increasingly middle-aged women who are supporting their children.

Does Jesus have a word for these fast food workers?

2.  Ask someone to read aloud from Mark 1:16-20.

The greedy Roman Empire also hit the income of some Jewish workers in the time of Jesus. Jesus goes all the way to the Sea of Galilee to recruit disciples instead of just starting in Nazareth.  This may very well be because Jesus wanted to recruit fishermen to be his disciples because they were people whose fishing industry in the Galilee had been hit hard by the ruinous practices of the military rule by Rome.

3. Isn’t the “Kingdom of God” just about what happens to you after you die?

Jesus certainly taught that the Kingdom of God was very different from the Kingdom of Caesar.  Indeed, Jesus teaches his disciples to pray that divine justice reign “on earth, as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:9-13)

Jesus plainly cared about workers and that they should be paid fairly for their work. “The worker deserves his wages.” (Luke 10:7)

Discuss: What does that mean to you and for your life?

4.  Leader: The Social Gospel is about Christians who have occupied these texts before.

The Rev. Walter Rauschenbusch and other Christian leaders in the Social Gospel movement in the early 20th century pointed out how the Christian Gospel, the “good news” about Jesus, is good news for our social relations, not just our personal relations.  They were talking about the drive to create unions to struggle against the sweatshop conditions of 19th and 20th century industrialization.

Today the teachings of Jesus in the New Testament need to be read again through “Social Gospel” eyes, in dialogue with a new labor movement that is emerging not from the big labor unions, but from the grassroots.

Homework: Read the Gospel of Luke.  Why do you think there are so many stories in Luke about Jesus and women?


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