A Labor Day message to Christians returning home from Tampa (and the rest of us as well)

You didn’t build it.

You may have had a hand in building whatever it was you were chanting about there in the Tampa Convention Center. But none us, no not one, does anything of significance completely on our own.

To quote a familiar adage, it takes a village. We’ve all benefited from the hard work, civic spirit, and basic kindness of countless folks along the way. Some we know. Most we don’t.

And there’s God. Always God.

As the Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Colossi, “For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.”

It’s no surprise when Ayn Rand devotees proclaim, “We built it.” But followers of Jesus Christ? The same folks who sing on Sunday about owing to the living God all they are and ever hope to be? Now that’s a puzzle.


In Kingdom Calling: Vocational Stewardship for the Common Good, Messiah College alumna Amy Sherman juxtaposes the story of Nehemiah and the wall-building project in Jerusalem with the “I built it” individualism of our time. She writes:

Some of the wall builders were priests; others were public officials. Some were perfume makers, one was a security guard, some were goldsmiths, and several were merchants.

Everybody had a part to play. They worked on different sections of the wall and they brought to their labors their own individual talents. Together they used their gifts to bring about the common good.

When the task was completed, the people gathered for a huge assembly and celebration. Individually they could rejoice in the role they had played. Collectively, they danced jubilantly in their new-found security. Tastes of shalom broke into the city, and the response was one big party.

Today many in our world are groaning, because ‘city walls’ are in disrepair. Our neighbors near and far are hungry for greater experiences of reconciliation, beauty, health, peace, justice, and other kingdom foretastes. This broken world is waiting for the unveiling of believers who will live as the tsaddiqim (the righteous), deploying their talents to rejoice the city. . . Then, many dances of rejoicing will begin.

On that day, there will be no chanting, no sign waving, no arguing about who built it. It simply won’t matter.


  1. True we are all stewards of what God has blessed us with, but God also calls us to be responsible for what he’s given us, and sometimes that means taking initiative and building something using the talents and treasures he’s given us. It’s not always a community event.

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