Not everyone goes out to work, but we all spend time doing things that are obligations, even if we don’t have paid work. How should you ‘do life’ as a Christian in work?
A man came to a church event and was surprised to see a lady from work there. He asked if she was a Christian. He said she was known as ‘misery’ at work – they had no idea she was a Christian. What sort of impression are you giving?
Is your job a calling? Or is it just a job?
There are three types of call on a Christian life:
1. Universal call: we are all called to follow Jesus, first and foremost.
The will of God is not a tightrope, that we have to be so careful not to fall off. It is more like a field – we are given scope to choose within the broad plan of God. As long as what we do reflects well on Jesus and the gospel, we are free to choose. Someone once said, ‘Love God and do as you like.’ This is shocking until you realise that if you really love God, what you like to do will be what pleases God.
2. Individual call: Sometimes God calls us to a particular area of service, in the church or in the world. For some people their job is a calling. God doesn’t call us to do things we don’t have a passion and a skill for. If you can’t play an instrument or sing, God is not going to call you to the worship band. If you don’t like children, God is not going to ask you to be a teacher or a nursery nurse. But maybe you have skills you don’t know about or you could use your skills in a way you haven’t thought of. That is why it’s good to volunteer, to try things out.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2 :10)
3. Specific call: Sometimes an extension of your gifting, or a one-off thing God wants you to do.
In the New Testament, Paul does evangelism but earns money making tents. Also he sometimes gets a specific call, like to Macedonia.
And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them. (Acts 16:9,10)
God at times gives a specific call to a job, sometimes you have freedom within the guidelines. Does it matter if you’re a cleaner, a social worker or a drug dealer? The question is, can you live out the principles of the Kingdom? You can as a cleaner or a social worker, but not as drug dealer.
How do we grow spiritually through our work? Paul made it clear in his letter to the Colossians.
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.
Don’t be conformed by the world. It’s so easy to get drawn into acting the way everyone else does when we’re at work. Is your behaviour or your speech different in work and in church?
There was a Christian lady who was stressed in work, but she was praying about it and had an open Bible on her desk. People coming for brief chat with her would go away less stressed – she came to realise her desk was an oasis in that stressful environment.
We hear about Jesus’ birth and ministry, but there is a big gap in the middle. What did Jesus do for 30 years? A lot of carpentry. But how did he live? People weren’t surprised when he started preaching. Even before he began his ministry he lived a holy life.
[based on a sermon by John Rogers in Pantygwydr Baptist Church]