Working together with others is the best way to test our faith, to find out whether or not we are ready to live a life of Christian fellowship. Work is the crucial test of faith because such a life can come into being only where people work for love. Love demands action, and the only really valid action is work. Christian fellowship means fellowship in work.
Justice and love demand that everyone take part in simple practical work with a spade, hatchet, or rake. Everyone should be ready to spend a few hours each day in either the garden or on the field: digging and spreading manure, plowing, or hoeing potatoes; on the reaper, at the circular saw, or in the metal-working shop. Everyone should be ready to devote a few hours every day to this practical work; those who have done purely mental work till now will feel its humanizing effect especially. In this way it will be possible for each person’s unique gifts to be kindled. The light that flickers within each heart will then exhibit its once-hidden glow in scholarly research or in music, in expressive words, in wood, or in stone.
Adapted from Johann Christoph Arnold, ed. Eberhard Arnold, Modern Spiritual Masters (Rifton, NY: Plough, 2011). This is an excerpt from a larger article, the original which can be read in our digital archive: “Community and the Future of Work” (1920).