Blog post January 25.jpg

We believe in the right and duty of persons to work for the glory of God and the good of themselves and others and in the protection of their welfare in so doing; in the rights to property as a trust from God, collective bargaining, and responsible consumption; and in the elimination of economic and social distress.

The original social creed of the Methodist Churches was originally put together during a period of deep societal unrest, especially between the working classes and the owning classes. Since then, there have been hundreds of labor laws put into effect in the United States which addresses many of the concerns of the first social creed: child labor, 40 hour work week, right to collectively bargain, etc..

Because there have been advances in labor rights over the last 100 years does not mean that we as a church should cease to believe in the right and duty of persons to work for the glory of God and the good of themselves and others. The church should not be passive in this, though often times we are.

What does Jesus have to do with where I work and how I treat my employees? A lot, actually. Being a faithful Christian, treating employees and workers fairly and kindly does not contradict good business practices. If your business model is based on exploiting others, then it would be hard to cohere that practice with the Christian faith. Our lives and labor is not neutral. We have to practice belief that each person is created in the image of God.

Does this mean that the church should be on the front lines of every strike? No. However, strikes should not be dismissed flippantly. You may not agree with the demands of a worker’s grievance. You may wish people were more grateful. And yet we must believe in the agency and humanity of all people, and especially all workers who are so easily exploited in our day.

The social creed frames these ideas around worker rights in the context of God’s gift of property to us all. What we own is held in trust from God. The people who work for us and work in society are not owned by their employers. They are not property to be disposed with or abused at will. To believe that each person is created in the image of Christ means that sometimes they will act and behave and make demands that I don’t like, but this does not make them lose their humanity.

That is the heart of the matter. We cannot just love people on Sundays and then try to exploit them the rest of the week. Nor should we rest with just our own behavior but hope and work for a society beyond exploitation, where all people regardless of what they do or where they are from, can be treated with respect and given space for glorifying God through how they work and live and save and give.