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Faith and Your Work

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  • What difference does the Christian faith make in people’s lives when they wake up on Monday and go to work?  Or when they close their Bibles and say Amen in the morning?
  • If the Christian life is solely about doing “spiritual” things like reading our Bibles, praying, and doings things like teaching the Bible and helping out at church, then is much of the everyday life of most Christians a hindrance towards to faithful Christian living?
  • Are “full-time” Christian workers an upper class of Christians with everyone else, you know the people who work “real” jobs, belonging in a second class? Should all Christians strive to work at Christian ministries?
  • Are “secular” jobs just means to an end, with the end being to give money away to Christian causes and to have opportunities to tell others about the gospel message?

These are the sorts of questions that are addressed in the book Work Matters by Tom Nelson. I recently read this book after being introduced to a group called Made to Flourish (thanks to a friend of mine who pastors this wonderful church) that seeks to help pastors try to connect Sunday worship to Monday work in the lives of their congregation. It is a book that I highly recommend for all Christians, as the book shows that our everyday lives and activities, the work we do in our jobs and even the work that we do around the house, does not get in the way of our faith but actually is the context through which we live out our faith. As C.S. Lewis noted long ago in the essay “The Weight of Glory,” being a Christian does not necessarily change what we do (though there will be changes!) as much as why and how we do the things of life, as much of our everyday lives will be spent doing the same things as others.

Pastor Nelson does a great job of showing that our work is a place in which we get to live out the Great Commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves. This happens through doing our work ethically and excellently, doing all things for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31) and also working in all  things as to the Lord (Colossians 3:23). Doing excellent work — that is at the fullness of our potential — honors God, and work must done in ways that reflect God’s laws and ideals (e.g., not cheating others, etc.). We love our neighbor as ourselves by treating our co-workers with the dignity and respect that they deserve as people made in the image of God, and we also love our neighbors in doing or making things for people (customers) that enhance their lives and bring them joy; we work for the common good or the good of others, not just our good.

All work in this world performs some sort of service or offers some sort of good that a person needs and we need to recognize that in whatever field we are in, which we have been trained and/or gifted and wired to be in. Builders build buildings that will house families or will house businesses, which provide livelihood to people. Accountants serve people by helping them understand their finances, bringing order to the chaos (and guiding people through tax code!). Nurses offer care for people who are sick and hurting. Entrepreneurs create goods and services that make life easier and businesses that will help people provide for their families. A homemaker helps provide an environment of rest and nurture for the family.

At one point, I considered a job in the financial field and realized that this job would be to help people make smart investments for their family goals and future living. I worked at a movie theater when I was going through seminary — this industry seeks to give people entertainment and an escape from the realities of the world and/or inspiration by telling good stories and my job was to get them there. I was a referee for middle school and high school wrestling; this job was to facilitate this athletic activity among youngsters and help them develop physical and mental skills by offering accountability to the rules.

Work is not punishment, as there was work to do before the entrance of sin to humanity. God calls for us to work, to fill and subdue the earth (Genesis 1:28). In fact, the same word that is used for work in Genesis 2:15 is used for worship; our work is worship, is glorifying God, when we do it in the manner that God designed for us. When we work, we are fulfilling God’s design for us. We must not make work ultimate, making it an idol, nor should we confuse the Great Commandment and the Great Commission, as if doing good works for others is all God calls his disciples to do, but we must not think that the Christian life is only about doing “churchy” things.

Hopefully, this gives us hope that the everyday tasks of life are not meaningless but actually meaningful. The goal of your job is not just to make as much money to provide for your family and to give away (though those are good things); the goal of your job is to honor God by doing good work, by working for the common good, and by being good to those you contact just as God is good to us (even when we don’t deserve it). All work can be seen as God’s work (unless the profession is fundamentally unethical or immoral). As a pastor, I need to help people see that how their job can be a means to fulfill the Great Commandment even as we together seek to fulfill the Great Commission in telling people wherever we go about the gospel message. One should not be working for the weekend but rather see how what happens on the weekend in worship helps you at work during the week!

Questions about Bible or theology, e-mail them to Pastor Brian at Theology@wearefaith.org. You can also subscribe to the blog and get its weekly updates by clicking here and filling out the info on the right side.

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He Gets Us

Though Jesus walked the earth 2,000 years ago, He still knows about the problems you face today. Not only does Jesus know what plagues us as a culture, He gets us. Jesus can relate. He was tempted, too. He was disrespected, too. He was doubted, too. He mourned, too. He suffered, too.

Faith Church is joining other churches in the Chicagoland area for the series, He Gets Us. We’ll explore that Jesus knows about our insecurity, exhaustion, anxiety, guilt, loneliness and grief. Join us for this new series as we find assurance in knowing we aren’t alone in this world. We have a Savior who gets us and cares about what we are feeling.

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