Blog - Grasping Vocation
Religious Ruts in Your Work World: Part 9Friday, May 21, 2010
YOU HAVE HEARD: GOD'S ONLY PURPOSES IN “SECULAR” WORK ARE WITNESSING AND MAKING MONEY FOR LIVING AND GIVING (Read Part 8)
BUT SCRIPTURE MAKES IT CLEAR: GOD SENDS YOU TO WORK TO REFLECT HIM AND HIS WORK
Why has God placed you where you work? He has done so not for just two but for a rich variety of purposes. This will be the first of several blogs on other reasons God deploys you into the work world.
Let's say you've worked for months or years in your current job. By now your co-workers know you follow Jesus. How do they know? From casual conversations in which you've referred to God or church. From the Bible on your desk. From the fish sign on your car bumper. And from your sharing the gospel with some when the moment was right. But sometimes days—even weeks—go by without any openings to speak about your faith. What, other than earning money, should motivate you to get up and go to work in those periods?
God gives his first answer to that question in the opening chapters of the Bible. Within the fellowship of the Trinity, God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule . . . over all the earth. . .” (Gen. 1:26). Clearly he made us as “God-reflectors.” Just as the moon reflects the light and splendor of the sun, we—created in God's likeness—are to mirror his brightness and glory.
Genesis 2 connects this mirror role with the “Why work?” question. We read that by day seven, God had finished the “work” (v. 2) he had been doing. What work? The work of creating. The same chapter goes on to say God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to “work” it and to “take care of” it (v. 15). So the first specific way God reveals that we are to mirror his brightness and glory is by. . . working. God worked, so we work. His work: making. Our work: maintaining. He created. We care for what he created. And because we were made in his likeness, our work should reflect both him and his ways of working.
But 20 minutes watching the news on any TV channel will leave no doubt that we humans often work in ways that reflect a distorted picture of God and his work. Even as I write this, the news media are reporting:
- One in eight public swimming pools was shut down because of filthy water or unsafe equipment.
- The massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico continues to contaminate the ocean.
- In Wisconsin, a semi truck driver barreling through traffic led cops on a wild chase.
- A 40-year-old school teacher beat a 13-year-old student as the camera recorded every blow.
- In Orlando, Florida, an NBA referee was suspended for throwing a ball at a fan during halftime.
- In Washington State, a trade group manager was arrested for embezzling more than $700,000.
Each of these incidents involved one or more people doing their daily work in ways that fall far short of the brightness and glory of God.
One of the reasons God sends you into your workplace is to work in ways that give others an accurate reflection of our glorious God and the kind of work he does. How do you do that? By such practices as telling the truth—even when it hurts your wallet or your pride. By doing first-class, quality work—even when it seems no one is looking. By refusing to cheat or break the law—even when it seems everyone else is doing it. And so on. Slim chance such work will make headlines. But your Father, who sees what is done even in secret, notices. And whether anyone else does or not, you have mirrored a ray of God's light into this sin-darkened world. In other words, God is glorified. Think of the brightened life on earth if millions of Christ-followers around the world were to see and do their work as God-reflectors.
Knowing current conditions in your workplace, how can you do your work in ways that will reflect God's brightness and glory?