|In Part 1 we talked about the importance of being faith-active in every area of our lives. We also discussed Plato’s secular/sacred philosophy and how it now permeates the church. Then we talked about a Biblical worldview – how things are either sinful or sacred. We ended our last message with a call to take a deeper dive into the theology and practice of being faith-active in all areas of life. Now, even though I’m going to focus on our work life today, just remember that this concept applies to every area of our lives.
Let’s start from the beginning. In Genesis 1 God sets an example for us by working six days, creating the universe, and then resting. And here’s the interesting thing. Before creation was even completed, work is mentioned as part of His plan for humanity. In Genesis 2:4-7 we read, “This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created. When the Lord God made the earth and the heavens–and no shrub of the field had yet appeared on the earth and no plant of the field had yet sprung up, for the Lord God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no man to work the ground, but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground–the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” Then in verse 15 we read, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.”
God gave Adam other jobs in addition to gardening. In Gen. 1:26 – He was… “to rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground”. And after Eve was created, they were both told to fill the earth and subdue it (1:28) and Adam was told to name the animals (2:19). Think about it. All these references to work take place in the perfect world where God had placed Adam and Eve. I said in Part 1 that work came before the fall. The fact that work came before the Fall means that it will also be an important part of our lives in the New Heaven and New Earth when Jesus returns. I know a lot of people think that one day they will be floating on a cloud and playing a harp, but I wouldn’t hold your breath. I for one was never that excited by the thought that I was going to hang around for eternity floating on a cloud, doing nothing. I believe we’re all in for a pleasant surprise when Jesus returns. Work will be a part of our lives in the new heaven and new earth, just as it was in the Garden of Eden.
Work was a part of God’s perfect plan for humanity. It was pleasurable, purposeful, and never boring. Think about it! If you’re a salesman in the new heaven and new earth, there won’t be any rejections – every call will result in a sale. If you’re a comedian, everyone will laugh at your jokes.
It was only when sin entered the world that work became difficult. But sin didn’t eliminate what God created; it just distorted and corrupted it. Sin didn’t eliminate work; it just introduced drudgery, often with a sense of futility to it. God desires to redeem work, to make it a blessing instead of a burden. God is a God of redemption, and He is not only in the business of redeeming people, He also wants to redeem everything else that was corrupted in the Fall. God doesn’t save us in order to leave us in our misery; He saves us in order to change our spiritual perspectives. As a Christian you can experience joy in your work. You can find contentment in your career. Your work matters to God, but that’s hard for us to grasp because of years of false teaching.
Paul tell us in Romans 1:20, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” In a Hebrew world view – the world of the Bible – God is present in His creation, and He wants us to encounter Him and understand Him through the material/natural world. Western culture, however, is not based on the Hebrew worldview, but on the Greek philosophy of dualism. Greeks believed there are two worlds, the seen and the unseen, the natural and the spiritual. The visible world is unstable, constantly changing, and has only the appearance of reality. The unseen world is the world of ultimate reality.
Dualism applied to people as well. Our souls belong to the spiritual world, and our bodies to the natural world. Basically, the physical body is bad, and the soul is good. From this philosophy of dualism naturally flowed the belief that work associated with man’s spirit is the only work that has any significance. As I illustrated last week. I’m a Pastor so my work is “spiritual” and significant. You have a “secular” job, so your work is meaningless. It’s this belief that built the wall of separation between faith and work. Leaving most people in the world feeling unfulfilled and insignificant. But remember, that foundation is built on man’s philosophy not on God’s truth.
OK, now I want to shift gears. We’ve been discussing the theological foundation of work life, but there are also practical implications to this concept of Monday to Sunday. What if we actually lived this out in our church, in our lives? What if we used the God-given gifts, talents, and abilities of those within the body of Christ to address the challenges of achieving our ministry goals? Think about it, the church is filled with CFOs, CEOs, attorney’s, marketing directors, scientists, sales experts, HR experts, teachers, project managers, and on and on. People ready to invest their lives in a Spirit-driven cause.
Eph. 3:20 reminds us, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us…” So, let’s take a moment to dream and to ask, “What If?”
– What if the church was no longer limited by traditional funding methods?
– What if a church of 200 could have the impact of a church of 2000?
– What if we could build economic zones in developing countries around the world to better serve the least of these? (Like our model in Nigeria)
– What if entrepreneurs and business people saw the church as a first stop in finding solutions to their business challenges?
– Finally, what if the church could revolutionize the idea of giving and serving and begin to dream without limitations.
Everything we’ve talked about is unorthodox, but so are most of the stories we read in the Bible. We serve an unorthodox God! We need to stop living out Plato’s secular/sacred worldview and start living out a Biblical worldview. The Bible teaches that if it’s not sinful…it’s sacred. Remember, God created everything, Satan created nothing. He only tries to steal and corrupt what God created.
Why are believers surrendering territory to the enemy without a fight? God is calling us to be faith-active in every area of our lives. To stand and fight, to be a part of His redemptive plan, to help take back what’s been stolen and corrupted.
Let’s pick up our sword – our gifts, talents, and abilities – and fight with passion to build the kingdom of God.