By Daniel J. Lee
The GraceNotes team has been on hiatus for a bit, but it's not for naught! We've been hard at work planning our next series, which we're really excited about! Our first blog series was a study on lust (available here). This next series will focus on a topic that's universally important — the topic of work. We're calling the series "Faith that Works."
For the next few months, we'll explore how our faith can shed light on our work. We'll look at work broadly and rightly defined, whether that means holding a professional job, owning a business, parenting, looking for work, or studying. We'll release two sorts of posts.
- The first sort of post will focus on teaching — introducing fresh ways you can connect your work to your faith. These posts will explore how the Bible provides perspectives that bring life to our work, how it shows us the nature and meaning of our work, as well as the place of our work in the grand, sweeping story of the redemption of the cosmos.
- The second will bring this teaching into the context of our community through interviews with members of Maranatha, exploring ways they attempt, or struggle, to integrate their faith with their work. Much like our "Day in the Life" series, our goal is to get a glimpse at a day in their life at work, to understand how they try to bring God into their place of work, and to learn together and be challenged to align ourselves with God’s purposes in our work.
Today's post will be the first of the teaching posts which will explore the topic of work from a biblical perspective. By the end of the series, we hope to better understand and see how the details of our work — from the spreadsheets that dominate our field of vision for hours on end, the seemingly pointless meetings we're required to attend, the late nights we spend burning the candle at both ends, to our unseen acts of enduring love towards our children, our family or our coworkers — all have eternal significance. Before we explore just how, there are reasons we need to broaden our thinking when it comes to integrating our work and our faith. Here's one reason why.
Broadening Our Paradigm
Of the many ways of connecting work and faith, three stand out as the most fundamental, straightforward and arguably most crucial. The first is to view work as a means for earning money with which one can financially support the local church, the work of missionaries, or charitable organizations. In other words, work is a means to support ministry, of either the word or deed sort.
The second is to make one’s work the work of the church or missionaries — that is, to enter full-time ministry! For some, work doesn’t merely support full-time gospel ministry; it is full-time gospel ministry (this one’s true to some degree for me right now).
The third is to build relationships with coworkers so you can share the gospel with them. Work is a means to evangelism, a context for it. Absolutely.
These are all crucial ways of integrating work and faith for various reasons. Above all, they’re crucial for the reason that they are either explicitly discussed in Scripture for some or all Christians, or they are straightforward, wise applications of Scripture’s instruction. They should to be a part of any paradigm for integrating work with faith.
While all three of these are necessary for any paradigm, they are not, however, in and of themselves sufficient for a full, robust paradigm.
They don’t say all that the Bible does on one crucial thing when it comes to thinking about work — on work itself! They describe ways that work serves other aspects of Christian living or mission, but they don’t say much about how work itself glorifies God. They integrate with faith some important aspects of work, but not work itself.
As a result, regular old work — what the majority of us do with the majority of our waking hours — is left to our own thoughts and interpretations. Our work is left outside the lordship of Christ, which is the only place where anything, including work, has lasting meaning or joy. No wonder some of us are bored with our work, or find it meaningless.
How then can we make our paradigm richer, more robust, more comprehensive? What more does the Bible say about work? What is the meaning of our work, and how can we view it the way God views it? Join us for the next post, in which we'll begin to explore how.