At the heart of Christianity is God’s call to us to know Him personally. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, ministered to men and women to show the reality of God’s invitation to ordinary people to be His friends.
When we look at what’s happening here, we see that all parts of people’s lives matter to God. Jesus took a direct interest in their work, their relationships, their finances, their health, their happiness, and their sense of meaning in life. Throughout the 2,000 years of Christianity, people have found God’s interest in their lives a helpful way of getting to know Him.
But, we may say, surely work is different? Work seems somehow separate from life. Work is something we study for. It demands a lot from us in time, energy, commitment, learning and patience. Life should be – well, not that demanding. Influences around us reinforce this perception, like an advertisement showing a man slipping away from the office by a concealed route, finding a large powerful vehicle and whizzing off to the great outdoors. By implication, it is suggested that work and life are misaligned with each other, like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that don’t fit snugly although we sense they should.
There’s the core issue: as human beings we want to be active, productive, occupied, applying ourselves to things that interest us. We can earn money from some of these. We cannot earn from some others. I earn nothing for exercising at the gym, a form of work that no-one makes me do, a “workout.” I earn nothing for washing the dishes after dinner, or for cleaning the family cars, though they are undeniably forms of work.
Would God be interested in the dish-washing or car detailing? Yes, He would. I’ve learned this over years of seeing Him get involved alongside me in small and ordinary tasks. And would God be interested in my paid work, either when it interests me, or when it doesn’t really catch my imagination? Yes, He would. But why?
It’s for two powerful reasons.
- First, God treasures personal relationship with you so much that He’ll use nearly anything to build that connection.
- Second, God values human work so highly that He sees it as one of the most useful and important aspects of your life.
These two statements just say things as they are, without exaggeration. If your situation is like that of most Christians, you’ve probably heard the first one (or variations of it) a lot more than you’ve heard the second. But for anyone who is asking questions about work, each statement is vital. That’s because when added together, these statements provide keys to worthwhile life.
God loves to use your paid or unpaid work, activities He values highly, to show Himself to you so that you and He can enjoy safe and joyful relationship. As that develops, the relationship and the work impact each other and improve each other. That is synergy of the highest order! It means that work and life are meant to fit snugly together. What are the dynamics of this? How can it happen?
In Genesis, at the start of the Bible, God reveals Himself in two ways that correspond to the two statements above. He reveals himself as knowable and relational, and as a worker who loves good results from work like abundance, variety, excellence, and multiplication. God worked to create a wonderful world, and gave us the privilege of keeping it going well and developing it. The idea of work contained in this is free of the complexities of modern work. Work as God originally shaped it for us was a bond between Him and us.
Originally, God created everything good. But it became damaged by sin. Work was one of the casualties, yet God’s personal goodness is such that He loves to give us good things – “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). The Kingdom of God is God’s will being worked out before the great climax when Christ comes again. As part of the divine kingdom being worked out, Christian believers have access to God’s presence and resources. Right here, worship and work meet. When work goes our way, let’s tell God we’re grateful; that shows we’ve noticed and don’t take good things for granted. When work is not so good, let’s remind ourselves that God knows the situation, and ask Him to act in it.
Both those responses, of thanksgiving and request, are good because they get God involved. And they help us to keep a positive attitude in which God helps us to do things that honor Him, such as doing quality work, keeping high moral standards, and building trustworthy relationships. Getting God involved like this fits what Jesus modeled, which was constant contact with His Father even when crowds were clamoring for his attention.
Paul the Apostle tells us to “pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17), like Jesus would have done in those crowds. Have you heard of “arrow prayers,” the quick silent heartfelt approaches to God that he certainly hears and uses? Although it’s not practical to pray at length or out loud in many situations, God knows that and is not bothered by it. The point is that He wants to hear from us so He can respond. We need to pray on the job because God refreshes our spirits and situations when we check in with Him. Learn to do this by cultivating the ability of coming into the presence of God even when things are busy. James writes, “You do not have, because you do not ask” (James 4:2b). By contrast, practice checking in with God. Become able to say, “I do have, because I do ask.” This is not some kind of quick supernatural fix-it, as situations vary greatly. But it connects worship with work, re-establishing a link that ought not to have been broken anyway. Use it for thanksgiving, appreciation, requests, help for another person… it’s your relationship with God, so let Him train you in how to use it. Ask Jesus to make Himself real to you in all dimensions of your work situation.
As we invite Jesus Christ into our work, we are responding to the eternal invitation He gave the Galilee fishermen long ago: “Follow Me.” Following Christ into new life means becoming increasingly aware of His reality and omnipresence. As we keep company with Christ and practice obeying Him, we discover that spiritual new life does not stay separate from natural life. Instead, Christian faith is for the whole of daily life in all its diversity and complexity. Christ’s omnipresence includes all our work, paid or unpaid. His love for us is so full, wide, and deep that it spills over into our work with the capacity to connect work with meaning and purpose that last. Let’s worship Christ at work, through work, with work!
Written by Dr. Richard Bouch. Used with permission. All rights reserved. Content distributed by WorkLife.org > used for non-profit teaching purposes only.
Posted on Wed, August 19, 2015