Yet, the reality of living in a fallen world is that we work in a fallen workplace. And if we have never been taught another way, then chances are we’ve simply been mimicking the rest of the world in relation to assumptions about work, work habits, even work ethics. God desires to not only shift our paradigm but to give our understanding of work a complete overhaul.
Thankfully the idea of work was originally written into the very fabric of humans as an intended good. If we can allow God to peel back the sin layers that have grown around his good concept we can again begin to see and know God’s good intentions that have always surrounded the idea of work, since the beginning.
Unfortunately, this side of heaven work will never be completely redeemed, but as His people we can begin to allow God to redeem work (including the workplace) now while we also hold on to the hope of work being fully redeemed one day in the future!
What do we do with the “thorns and thistles” that are currently a part of the working world and how do we bring Kingdom Living into this opposing environment?
In God’s infinite wisdom He has been showing us throughout Scripture how to live in the midst of a corrupt generation. He began by calling a people to Himself and as He did He called them to a holy (or set apart) kind of living. But never simply for the sake of being different alone but so that through us the rest of the world may see and acknowledge the kind of living that God always had in mind and, in turning to Him, would find the same hope-filled living that our lives have put on display.
God set out to re-teach a rebellious people the kind of living He intended for all of creation and He began to spell it out through the ethical kind of living He called Israel to in the OT. God wasn’t establishing the exact laws & ordinances for all people in every age and every culture to live out until He returns. It was the idea behind the laws & ordinances that God intended to have cross all cultures, times & places. And it is not just A way of viewing the world but GOD’S way of viewing it that is the basis for Kingdom living.
If there were to be a people after God’s own heart then they would see the world and everything in it as God does. They would be a people, for instance, who do not take unfair advantage of others. Their work ethics would not exploit or oppress another. Their goal would not be excessive accumulation for themselves. They would be a people who fought for fairness (in wages and work expectations). Workers would be treated like human beings who are created in the image of God. One thing that would mean would be an acknowledgement of the need for times of refreshing built into the working environment (for instance, a 5 day work week not 7 days, an 8 hour work day not 12, reasonable vacation time, etc.)
As God’s people we are to reflect the same kind of gracious and generous living in our work environment as God has for us. In case we missed this holy kind of living in the OT, God spells it out for us a second time when Jesus enters the scene, and announces that the long-awaited Kingdom of God is at hand then proceeds to teach SOTM kind of living. It is this kind of Kingdom People that God intends for us to be, in the workplace. We are God’s representatives, displaying the very character of God to a watching world.
Everything we are and everything we do is ultimately for God, to bring Him glory and to reveal His glory to others. As others come into close contact with us they recognize by the way we live (by the way we work) that we are not like everyone else, our work ethic belongs to Someone else, and its appealing and enticing to the point that others desire to know the Who that explains why we are so different from the rest.
Doing all for the glory of God, includes the manner in which we work. We put our best foot forward. God is a thinking, planning, implementing, creating God and being created in His image we have been blessed with those same gifts.
God is also righteous, loving and just which means that He intended our thoughts, our mindset (perspective), our decisions, choice of words & actions, our treatment of others (co-workers, employers, employees, the “competition”, customer, etc) to reflect Him in that way as well.
The way we see work, the way we understand it and the attitude we have towards it matters to God. In addition, God has placed you where He has, as His representative, who will always be prepared to give a reason for the Hope that is in you (that others around you will see because of your set apart kind of living – evident in words, deeds, attitudes, decisions, and behaviors) in your workplace.
One more thought, remember, it isn’t work that makes you who you are, and it isn’t work that fulfills or completes you. God does those things and because of what He’s done we can take our completed, fulfilled selves into the workplace, and as we live for Him there (always by His strength and following His direction), we can bring hope to the lives around us.