Work, Perspective, and the Kingdom

I’ve been reflecting lately on the mantra that is so often shared in the Marie Kondo movement; this mantra was so popular several years ago “seek what brings you joy.” And I think it has caused many people over the past years to ask the same questions of themselves.

Does this piece of clothing, furniture, this house bring me joy? Unfortunately, it then has a lot of us trying to filter everything through this filter in a way for which it was never designed. We weren’t meant to judge relationships, jobs, and other aspects of life this way, through what I like to call the “me” filter.

But the question continues to remain in my mind, how does this compare with the belief I see so much through Scripture, that we were created for something greater than ourselves? Too often we try to put our minds around this theological concept of the Kingdom and our calling. But what if we are called as a people to be restorative and to be active agents in God’s mission of reconciling and restoring the world to Himself?

Too often I hear about people wanting to be led to the right job, the right office, the right profession. They want to “make a difference for the Lord.” I keep hearing in different conversations, “I’m praying for God to open the door for me to work for Him.

I think we do need to grasp that, yes, some people are called to their specific job or work field. But I think we forget we each, already, have a calling; we are called to follow Christ first and foremost. We are invited into this relationship. And other callings, to a workplace, a ministry, a relationship, they all flow out of that original calling, which is to be in relationship with Him and worship Him fully. It is God who initiated the relationship, without Him choosing us first, we wouldn’t be able to walk with Him. Our work will flow out of relationship with Him and our giftings given by God.

We, as followers of Christ, are a people that believe our relationship with God overflows and impacts everything, including our work. So often we pray that God would start to redeem and restore this world because we are unaware that He is already at work doing this. God’s restorative work started after the fall and will continue to the creation of a new heaven and a new earth, which we read about in Revelation 21. And He is using us, in our work and vocations, to accomplish this!

In the New Testament, we see the word “new” used often. There is the greek word Neos which is defined as totally new, but more often than not, the greek word that is used is Kainos which means renewed. So when we see this in scripture, we should attribute this to the renewing work of God.1 It is through seeing all2 work as being used in the renewing work of God that we can see our role in the Kingdom. When we see the roles of all believers in the kingdom contributing to the Kingdom, then the sacred/secular divide falls away.

Abraham Kuyper, one of the scholars who helped start the conversation of Sphere Sovereignty, said, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!’”3

Let us remind ourselves that God is so much bigger than our minds can ever comprehend, and yet, have the perspective of D.L. Moody when he said, “There are many of us that are willing to do great things for the Lord, but few of us are willing to do little things.” Let us reframe our question, from that of what brings me joy, to what in our work brings joy and honor to God? It is in these moments where we shift from our name being magnified to His, that He is glorified.

1If you would like to begin digging deeper into Biblical theology of Work, I’d encourage you to look at this article.

2 I say all work but there are certain kinds that do go directly against the Word of God, but I won’t jump into that discussion here but there are some types of work that does not honor human dignity or God’s design.

3 Abraham Kuyper: A Centennial Reader, ed. James D. Bratt (Eerdmans, 1998), 488.

Photo by Kristopher Roller on Unsplash
Photo by Stănculea Iulia Adina on Unsplash

Why Faith at Work?

So for many during this time, a time of Covid, Elections, and five million other things coming down on us (or at least what it feels like), we can feel like we are in survival mode. And then add the stress of work in itself, trying to do all our work from home, not having the blessing of dropping by another colleagues desk to ask for help or take a breather. MAN. THIS. FEELS. EXHAUSTING.

So we just do what we need to do and just survive. We can look at our faith’s impact on our work once we get back to the office, right? Once covid disappears. Once we have stability. Once we have found our normal rhythm.

I have been reading through Dorothy Sayers’ collection of essays called Letters to a Diminished Church. I think Covid era has caused us to open our eyes to things we may have tried to stuff down or hide away before. Her words in her essay called “What do we believe” seem to puncture the huge feeling many of us are feeling right now about normal life pre-covid.

“In ordinary times we get along surprisingly well, on the whole, without ever discovering what our faith really is. If, now and again, this remote and academic problem is so unmannerly as to thrust its way into our minds, there are plenty of things we can do to drive the intruder away. We can get the car out or go to a party or to the cinema or read a detective story or have a row with a district council or write a letter to the papers about the habits of the nightjar or Shakespeare’s use of nautical metaphor. Thus we build up a defense mechanism against self-questioning because, to tell the truth, we are very much afraid of ourselves.”
Sayers, Dorothy. Letters to a Diminished Church . Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

Pre-pandemic, we used to use “busyness” as our escape. However, now we’ve been isolated into our homes and safe spaces. And yes, we are in a pandemic. But in these times it’s so easy for our situation to be another mask. Another reason why we can’t attempt to enter into that intersection of faith and work.

Maybe you’ve realized your self care rhythms need to be adjusted for a Covid world. Or maybe you’ve been running on empty for so long, your ways of self care were really ways of masking and hiding. Our normal ways to find “self care and retreat” aren’t working how they used to, and we realize we were doing even that in our own strength. We can’t afford to ignore Christs call to follow Him.

SOMETIMES WE ARE AFRAID…and we might buy into the lies the enemy throws our way, no matter how easy they might be to believe.

  • How weak you are and that you aren’t living up to God’s or others’ expectations.
  • How your identity has been lost during this time because you can’t be working like you had.
  • How you aren’t making a difference for the Kingdom because you aren’t working for a NGO or christian ministry.
  • How isolated you are and no one cares about you.

So I know probably one of the last things on peoples minds is faith and work during this time. I mean it’s Advent, we are in a process of waiting for the celebration of our Saviors birth, we are confronted with the brokenness of the world around us. We are seeking rest, celebrating (or trying to figure out what this looks like this year in 2020), and just trying to wrap up the year well.

But I’d say the Gospel speaks so much into these times. Uncertainty with work, life, society. The Gospel isn’t just about whether we go to “heaven” or’s so much bigger than this. Yes! It is about the brokenness of the world and our need to be in relationship with our Savior. YET it also is about God’s desire to redeem and restore all things (which includes all industries) to bring Him glory. Covid hasn’t stopped our Lord. He wasn’t surprised by this pandemic. And one of the main ways Gospel renewal happens in societies is through work.

There is heaviness in our work. I am not trying to pretend we live in a utopian world without brokenness or sin. Stress, sin, exhaustion, and brokenness all exist, especially in our workplaces. But, in the same time, the Lord works through the way we work, our relationships we have with our colleagues, our dreams. We, as Christians, believe God is at work through our work, no matter how tedious it may feel at times. This is why Faith at work is so important. Because of the Gospel, we have hope of a changed work, a changed city, and a changed world. But only God can do this, and the good news is, that He is at work, as well.

So over the next couple months, I am going to blog more about some of the core faith at work readings we have come across and hope to put some of these things in the lens of Faith and Work and the world we live in.

Please, if you have any questions or reflections, leave a comment below. As well, feel free to share this with anyone who might find it beneficial.

Photo by David Lezcano on Unsplash
Photo by Christopher Windus on Unsplash