Blog - Mirroring God

How to Begin Mirroring God in Your Workplace

Monday, November 24, 2008

The so-called “household codes” of the New Testament show us the starting point for mirroring God where you work. We find these codes in Ephesians 5, Colossians 3, Titus 2 and I Peter 2. All four of these letters include words to slaves. Nearly half the population of the Roman Empire worked as slaves. They served as teachers, accountants, secretaries, doctors, nurses, caterers, government workers, musicians and so on. Their work—like the work of employees today—made life on earth livable. So we can take Paul's instructions to slaves into our own workplaces.

In three of these letters, the “buildups” leading to the household codes contain references to mirroring God. For example, Ephesians 5:1 says we are to “Be imitators of God . . . .” Colossians 3:10 speaks of the “new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” And I Peter 2:12 says we should “Live such good lives among the pagans that . . . they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.”

How, then, are slaves—even those working among pagans—to mirror God? The first instruction in all four of these household codes hits the same note: Ephesians 5:21—“Obey.” Colossians 3:22—“Obey.” Titus 2:9—“Be submissive.” And I Peter 2:18, slaves are to be “subject to their masters.” So obedience in stands out as the first step in mirroring God in the workplace.

But today that “O” word offends many. For example, I found these words in a website: “. . . obedience must be just about the greatest of all evils. Obedience is surrender of personal power. Disobedience creates civilization. Obedience causes its collapse.” In the world, obedience is for dogs, not people. Naturally, such an attitude breeds disrespect for what Paul calls “earthly masters” and what we call “bosses.”

Where does obedience begin? With your ears! That word “obey” translates a Greek word from which we get our word “acoustic.” It means to listen attentively, to obey on the basis of having paid attention. If you only half hear your supervisor's instructions, how can you hope to carry them out?

How does working obediently image God? From Adam until now, what human being best mirrored the true God for us? Jesus Christ. And how did Jesus do that? By living as an obedient servant. The Bible says Jesus took “the very nature of a servant.” He “humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:7, 8). Another Scripture tells us Jesus “learned obedience from what he suffered” (Hebrews 5:8). Christian, the spirit of Christ lives in you. To mirror God in your workplace, begin by bringing your words, attitudes and actions into line with his. Obey even when it hurts (as Jesus did).

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