Every week many people go to work without seeing the slightest connection between what they do all day and what they think God wants done in the world. In order to become extraordinary followers of Christ, we must bring every dimension of our lives under his Lordship. Our home life, our church life, our social and personal life, and yes our work life! Many Christians have created this false division between the sacred and the secular, between our spiritual life and our work life. But for the Christian, there should be no walling off of the secular from the sacred. For us, everything is sacred, because Jesus wants us to bring every area of our lives under his Lordship. He wants to bring life and meaning and purpose to every area of your life.
One of the most important ways that we worship God is through how we approach our work. Many of us have created a wedge between our spiritual life and our work life, and that is a huge mistake. Many people hate their jobs and can’t see how what they do 40-plus hours a week is connected with what they think God wants done in the world. They lack a sense of purpose in their vocation. When we sever our work life from our faith we can develop a kind of moral schizophrenia. Many Christians have Christian ethics that govern their personal and faith life, and a workplace ethic to govern their vocational life.
When we sever work life from faith we can also make work an idol. When your job rather than your relationship with God becomes the controlling center of your life, you have made work an idol. When everything and everyone—your marriage, your children, your friends, your morals—must accommodate the demands of your work, then you know it has become an idol. We like our toys, but when those “things” begin to possess you, you’ve got a problem. It is the pursuit of the good life at any cost that brings us into conflict with Biblical teaching. Jesus said, “Deny yourself.”, but the work-worshipper says, “Fulfill yourself.” Jesus said, “Give and it will be given unto you.” but the work-worshipper says, “Accumulate, and store up for you!” There is nothing wrong with working hard—you should; the problem comes when you are willing to sacrifice your family and compromise your faith in order to serve your career. That is idolatry. And tragically, many of us have crossed the line.
Some of us have convinced ourselves that God really isn’t all that interested in what we do at work. He is only interested in religious stuff, so we demean the value of our work. Others try to ease the tension they feel between faith and work by devaluing the importance of faith. Then church attendance becomes sporadic. We stop serving. We drop out of our community group. We stop giving—why invest in something that we don’t really believe in? Pretty soon we drop the religious pretense all together. And all of that energy and focus that was directed at cultivating our spiritual life we redirect in other areas. But neither of these is God’s design.
But when you bring God and work together in their proper biblical balance you will begin to experience a refreshing sense of dignity and meaning in your work; you will have a renewed commitment to pursue a lifestyle of ethical distinction on the job, and you develop a new appreciation for the many ways that the Bible speaks powerfully to issues in the workplace. Genesis 1:26-28 teaches that we are made in God’s image, and that relates to the significance of work. God charged us with the responsibility to rule and exercise dominion over creation. The command to rule and subdue is essentially a command to work. Our various vocations reflect the myriad of ways that we go about fulfilling this important foundational mandate. Work is not a result of the fall. It was commanded before the fall. In fact, work is a gift from God; it is one of the ways that we image our Creator. And so we should take our work seriously. We should seek to glorify Him through our work. It should be an expression of our worship.
This week, ask yourself: “In what broad areas of my life am I guilty of adopting a sacred vs. secular mentality?” List specific examples of where you see this kind of thinking in operation. What would it look like if you were to allow Christ to exercise his Lordship over this area? What would keep you from submitting to Christ’s Lordship in this area?
APPLICATION / CHALLENGE
- In what broad areas of your life are you guilty of adopting a sacred vs. secular mentality? What specific steps do you need to take to allow Jesus to be Lord of that area of your life?
- In what ways have you compromised your Christian values on the job? In what specific area is God convicting you? What are you going to do about it?
- Do you tend to demean your work or idolize it? What would it look like for you to glorify God through your work? What kind of mindset change would that require?
TAKE ONE STEP
Each week, write down one doable concrete step of obedience, small or large that you will put into practice this week. (James 1:22: “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.”)