Monday, October 01, 2007

Work As Witness

From Rubel Shelley's Fax of Life today...

Title: Work as Witness
Date: For the Week of October 1, 2007

Centuries ago somebody began spreading the false idea that the Christian life is to be understood in terms of two arenas – sacred and secular. Sacred places are church buildings. Sacred events are those such as worship or baptism or weddings. Sacred people are preachers or church officers.

The remainder of life was declared secular. So farms, stores, and schools were secular places. Surgery and manufacturing, accounting and teaching, driving and watching TV - all were labeled secular. And ordinary people doing the routine and humdrum things of shopping, eating, and reading are secular.

But that is so terribly wrong. In God's plan for human existence, it makes no sense. In light of Christ's teaching, work is witness.

I can grant that there is a sense of the sacred and holy in a church assembled for worship that is missing from a crowded, noisy office. But work is sacred too. It is holy by virtue of divine presence you bring to it as a person filled with God's Spirit and participating in God's creative work.

Writing letters, hiring people, selling lumber, stocking shelves, firing someone who broke company policy again, answering phones - these and whatever other things you will be expected to do today are not secular. They're not, that is, unless you misunderstand your role in them. You and I are in the world to continue the work of God. Creating. Improving. Empowering. Doing things that we and others will look at and say are "good" or even "very good."

My appeal is not that we should become workaholics. Instead, it is that we see ourselves as God sees us. We are extensions of his presence into the nooks and crannies of the world. If Paul could tell slaves to do their chores "with enthusiasm, as to the Lord and not to human masters" (Ephesians 6:5-8), surely some of us could take a more elevated view of our tasks in the workplace.

Work isn't an unspiritual curse from which you should desire freedom in order to visit retreats, seminars, and workshops on spiritual life. It is your lab for turning lead to gold, humdrum to holy by the Spirit-presence you take to life.

Your spiritual life won't be on hold as you work today. It will be on display.

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