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Summary: A Labor Day sermon that looks at three benefits shared by uniting in the Lord’s labor.

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Your Place in the Divine Labor Union

Ephesians 4:3-16

So what’s your idea of the way to celebrate Labor Day?

Is it a holiday from your work so you can enjoy rest?

Is it a holiday from your vocation, so you can work at home?

Do you and your spouse share the same idea?

Or is it an end-of-summer holiday for recreation, reunions, cookouts or traveling?

I’ve heard that Labor Day was first celebrated in Boston on Sept 5, 1882. It wasn’t until 1894 that it became a federal holiday. That was an effort encouraged by President Grover Cleveland to reconcile with the labor movement and prevent further violence.

You see, in the spring of that year was the famous Pullman Strike. It took place between Chicago and Gary, Indiana, in Pullman, Illinois. That was the home of the Pullman Palace Car Company which built cars for the railroad, including luxury sleeping cars and dining cars.

Some 3,000 workers went on strike because of reduced wages. It was a very violent strike in which several workers were killed by federal troops sent there to by Cleveland.

Labor Day was instituted as a holiday to call attention to the strength and unity of the organized labor movement.

We who are believers in Christ are members of a divine union. As such, we share the benefits that kinship offers.

I’m not talking about guaranteed wages, paid vacations and holidays, insurance, pensions, and other benefits secured through collective bargaining. I’m talking about benefits of a more spiritual than material nature; of a more eternal than temporal nature.

Issues of organized labor and collective bargaining have been at the forefront in political and media conversations during this year. There are differing opinions and strong emotional reactions.

My purpose is not to criticize or commend either side of these issues. I want to show you a higher form of union and benefits which we gain by a grace covenant with a perfect God, over and above what’s gained by negotiated contracts with imperfect people.

Let’s read from Ephesians 4. Our key verse is the 16th. “From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” (NIV)

Let’s start reading at verse 3. “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit— just as you were called to one hope when you were called— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Now go to verse 11. “It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.

16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” (NIV)

Let’s consider some benefits of divinely organized labor.

1. We enjoy the security of authentic kinship because we are united in a grace covenant instead of a negotiated contract. (Ephesians 4:3-6)

Believers are united in a kinship to God and a brotherhood to each other by God’s covenant of grace. Look at that union in Ephesians 4:3, “Always keep yourselves united in the Holy Spirit, and bind yourselves together with peace.” (NLT)

Paul says, “endeavor” and “give all diligence” to keeping the unity provided by God’s Spirit.

It is a work of God’s Spirit in believers to produce oneness. This oneness exists even when we’re not careful about it, because it’s made by the Spirit. But when we’re not careful in attending to unity, its display is lost and the world won’t see it.

The Spirit achieves a kinship, a brotherhood through some “bond of peace”. There’s something that links and binds us together. That something is the grace covenant.

Contract and covenant can often be interchangeable terms. Their general meaning is pretty much the same; two parties agree to provide a service or product for their mutual benefit. Contracts and covenants binds parties together.

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