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Good News for Monday Morning

THE GOSPEL AT WORK

ppt background work tex2tApart from sleeping, there are few things we spend more time doing in our lifetime than work. The average is somewhere in the 90,000-hour range.[1] That’s just over 11 years if you’re counting.

Work is consuming. And it’s rarely easy.

  • 80% of people are dissatisfied with their jobs.
  • 25% of employees say work is their main source of stress and 40% say their job is "very or extremely stressful."
  • 64% of Americans canceled vacations last year. One-third did it for work-related reasons.
  • 25% of people check into work hourly while on vacation, via email and phone.[2]

For something so overwhelming and often consuming for so many in our congregations, it’s interesting that work receives relatively little attention in our gathered worship services. David Miller captures the common predicament Christians find themselves in: “Many who are Christians complain of a ‘Sunday-Monday gap,’ where their Sunday worship hour bears little to no relevance to the issues they face in their Monday workplace hours.”[3]

What difference does the gospel of Jesus make in our work? Or as Greg Gilbert and Sebastian Traeger ask the question, “How can I do my work, not just as a way to put food on the table, but as a sold-out disciple of Jesus? What’s the point of work, anyway, in a Christian’s life? Is there any meaning to it beyond providing goods and services, making money, and providing a living for myself and my family?”[4]

Many have offered answers to these questions, and many of those answers are quite helpful. Yet they can also feel simplistic and confusing, even competing at times. Tim Keller summarizes some of the key ideas commonly advocated as the main way to apply one’s Christian faith to work:

  • The way to serve God at work is to further social justice in the world.
  • The way to serve God at work is to be personally honest and evangelize your colleagues.
  • The way to serve God at work is just to do skillful, excellent work.
  • The way to serve God at work is to create beauty.
  • The way to serve God at work is to work from a Christian motivation to glorify God, seeking to engage and influence culture to that end.
  • The way to serve God at work is to work with a grateful, joyful, gospel-changed heart through all the ups and downs.
  • The way to serve God at work is to do whatever gives you the greatest joy and passion.
  • The way to serve God at work is to make as much money as you can, so that you can be as generous as you can.

Certainly there’s a element of truth to all of these. But they can’t all be the main way at the same time, can they? What difference does the gospel of Jesus actually make for our work?

We won’t claim to sort all of this out, but we do hope to find some clarity and direction as we focus on this subject beginning in August in our series, “The Gospel at Work”:

• Aug. 2: ‘As Unto the Lord’: A Theology of Work (Genesis 2:1-3, 15; Col. 3:23-24)
• Aug. 9: True Success (Luke 12:13-21)
• Aug. 16: When Work Stops Working (Ecclesiastes 2:18-25)
• Aug. 23: A Gospel Performance Review (Ephesians 6:5-9)
• Aug. 30: Witnessing in the Workplace (1 Peter 3:8-17)
• Sept. 6: Balance: Work, Home, Church (Matthew 6:25-33)

We hope you can join us.

 

Notes:

[1] See Alyson Shontell, “15 Seriously Disturbing Facts About Your Job,” Business Insider, Feb. 14, 2011. Available at: http://www.businessinsider.com/disturbing-facts-about-your-job-2011-2?op=1

[2] Shontell.

[3] David Miller, as cited in Tom Nelson, Work Matters: Connecting Sunday Worship to Monday Work (Wheaton: Crossway, 2011), 15.

[4] Sebastian Traeger and Greg Gilbert, The Gospel at Work: How Working for King Jesus Gives Purpose and Meaning to our Jobs (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2013), 13.

[5] Timothy Keller, Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work (New York: Penguin Publishing Group, 2012), 21-22. Kindle Edition.