There is a website called Despair, Inc. which makes fun of the signs and motivational posters that adorn the walls of so many offices. My favorite is one that shows a picture of a sinking ship. Under the pictures the caption reads, “It could be that the purpose of your life is only to serve as a warning to others.”
All kidding aside, what does the purpose of your life at work tell other people?
Carl F. H. Henry in his book Aspects of Christian Social Ethics writes, “According to the Scriptural perspective, work becomes a way station of spiritual witness and service, a daily traveled bridge between theology and social ethics. In other words, work for the believer is a sacred stewardship, and in fulfilling his job he will either accredit or violate the Christian witness.” Believers can and should think differently from everyone else in our culture about all aspects of life, especially work.
Is your life, what you do on a daily basis (especially your life at work), a signpost pointing to the way things could be? In the first chapter of the book of Mark we read,
Jesus performs many miracles, demonstrating his power over nature and spirits, and thus confirming that the Kingdom of God is at hand. (Mark 1:15 NIV)
In the Gospel of John, the apostle called Jesus’ miracles signs,
This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him. (John 2:11 ESV)
There are a number of reasons that Jesus preformed these signs: to demonstrate his power over the creation, to confirm that the Kingdom of God is at hand and to show he was the Messiah. But why didn’t Jesus just heal everyone that was sick? Why didn’t he feed everyone that was hungry?
Jesus’ miracles were a sign pointing to a future time when all the sick would be healed and all the hungry would be feed. A time when
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. (Revelation 21:4)
Jesus’ miracles were a sign pointing to the way things could be and, because of his life, death, and resurrection, the way things are going to be in the New Heaven and the New Earth.
We who are called to imitate Christ should live out our lives as a sign, an example pointing to the way things could be in every aspect of our lives.
Because we celebrate human creativity as evidence of our being made in the Creator’s likeness, Christians must encourage one another to do work worthy of our best efforts and worthy of our high calling.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men. (Colossians 3:23)
As Dorothy Sayers put it in her essay “Vocation in Work,” we must challenge one another to seek “the kingdom of a divine understanding of work” which can, if we find it, give us a mysterious and glorious view of vocation and work while pointing others to the way things are going to be in the New Heaven and New Earth.
Now I suspect that this idea of your work serving as a sign post reflecting Christ’s Kingdom leaves with you a few questions on what that really looks like in the day-to-day grind. I hope it does. The concept goes beyond mere ethics in the workplace, though ethics are part of it. I encourage you to continue to join me on this blog as we dig into the Biblical doctrine of work in the coming days and weeks.
Question: What questions do you have about your own work in light of this challenge to work as a signpost pointing to Christ’s Kingdom? Leave a comment.
About Hugh Whelchel
Hugh Whelchel is Executive Director of the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics and author of "How Then Should We Work?: Rediscovering the Biblical Doctrine of Work." Hugh has a Master of Arts in Religion and brings over 30 years of diverse business experience to his leadership at IFWE. Read More...
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