I once asked a Christian guy how he expressed his faith. He seemed confused by the question. “I go to church on Sunday and worship God. On Monday morning I get on the bus to go to work, and I don’t think about God again until the following Sunday.”
I was shocked by his response. I feel we have a choice.
Do we pretend that our work doesn’t matter to God? Do we check our faith at the door? Do we feel guilty working in our secular jobs rather than going to Bible college and doing ‘Gospel work’?
Or, do we seek to worship God through our work? Do we seek to serve God and others in the way we work, the choices we make, what we say and do at work, how we treat other people?
In effect, the choice is actually between worshipping work or worshipping God through our work. Ironically, when we cut God off from our work, or eating, or relationships… we end up not making those things subject to his control, and we allow those things to replace God at the centre of our decision-making, as the source of our identity and pride and sense of security. We worship the created thing rather than the creator.
The reality is that work was never meant to be the source of all our desire and satisfaction. Until recently, human beings had to work to live. We grew our food, exchanged goods with others and built shelters and made clothes for basic survival. With increasing wealth in many parts of the world, we now have the privilege of living to work. Work has become the potential source of meaning and purpose, not merely the means of earning enough to survive.
Think it through
Are there ways that you live dualistically at work? Is there an obvious or subtle way you make a division between what is sacred / spiritual / good, and what is secular / material / bad?
Do you expect from work what can only be provided by God? Do you expect work to meet your needs: self esteem, security, sense of meaning or purpose?
What does the Bible say?
I love Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of these well-known verses from Paul in Romans 12:1–2:
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
God doesn’t just want to be a part of our lives, he wants to be at the very centre of our lives. He wants us to give everything we have to him, and he will make more of our lives than we can imagine.
Dear God, you are worthy of all honour, and certainly worthy of the sacrifice of our ordinary lives. Help us to know how we can worship you in our daily working. Help us to serve you and others in the way we do our work, in our working relationships, and even in the way we set up our workplace. Empower us by your Spirit to be as creative and gracious as possible. We seek to honour you, Amen.