In today’s post I want to think about the third way we can redeem our work, and that is that knowing God uses our work to change us. For all the nobility surrounding work, there are rare occasions (perhaps not THAT rare) when work actually feels like work. Sometimes we don’t leave the office thinking we have subdued the world for Christ today. When we’re marking those essays or serving that disgruntled customer we don’t come away thinking “Thank you Lord for allowing me to cultivate these essay’s for Jesus”. We don’t feel like that because as important as Genesis 1 and 2 are, what follows helps us make sense of where we are at today. What follows is Genesis 3, and the story of the Fall of Man. The result of Adam’s sin is that into the world came hardship and struggle so that we now sweat and groan under the labour of work. What was meant to be fulfilling is now often frustrating, where the earth should be yielding crops, it yields thorns. The reason we have broken equipment, lazy employees, slopey shoulders and bureaucratic paper work is because of Genesis 3. These often cause frustration and exhaustion as well as the desire for something else, somewhere else … a longing for that magical thing called “the weekend”! But, for the Christian, such frustration is not simply as hassle to be endured but a tool in God’s hands to make us more like Jesus.
God’s purpose for all of us to be progressively conformed into the image of Christ and your work is one of the primary ways God works that out in you. Let me ask some questions that might help …
- how do you deal with situations that sometimes just aren’t your fault? the network goes down and you have a deadline but the information you need – is on your email – which you can’t get and IT Support are just telling you to “turn it off and on again”.
- The store has run out of vital supplies that you just sold to a customer because the machine told you there were 500 in stock. The customer is standing in front of you and is less than pleased. Actually, according to them “it’s your fault”.
- You make another [perfect] sales pitch but all you get is a brush off answer “my guys will call your guys”, and you know that call will never come.
If you’ve ever experienced anything mildly similar to those, listen … that is not just a bad day, it’s a day when God is at work. It’s a day when God is going to shape you and expose your impatience, laziness, self sufficiency, anxiety or pride. It’s an opportunity for you to lift your eyes to the one who alone gives success:
Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.
This verse is meant to lift our eyes to God who is the one who gives blessing. Sebastian Traeger , The Gospel at Work: How Working for King Jesus Gives Purpose and Meaning to Our Jobs wrote:
Work hard, work smart, trust God
I like that! Simple but a pretty good motto for work wouldn’t you say? What does it mean? Well I think it means that the thorns and the broken equipment, and lazy employees, and slopey shoulders and bureaucracies are all opportunities to remind you of the transforming grace of God. That your noble calling is not ultimate and not meant to give you meaning. Your work isn’t supposed to completely satisfy you and it’s not meant to give you significance and purpose. All of these “bad day” things are whispering to you “only Jesus is worthy of your devotion”