At Woven, we’ve begun a new series on WORK & SPIRITUALITY, and this past Sunday I dug deep down and preached from the soil between my toes. It was a lifetime opus. Here is the summary of my message in 3 principles illustrating the pursuit of meaning when it comes to Monday to Friday:
1. WORK IS NOT BAD
We get our notions of “fallen” work from Gen 3:17-19 (just after Adam & Eve ate from the tree of knowledge): “Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you will eat of it All the days of your life. 18 “Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; And you will eat the plants of the field; 19 By the sweat of your face You will eat bread.”
But a closer search on the theme of work will turn up that the above passage is not the earliest precedent; it is Gen 2:15 “15 Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.” Indeed, if one wants to find an earliest precedent we can even go as early as Gen 1:1 “In the beginning God created (בָּרָא) the heavens and the earth” – and you can’t get earlier than that. Yes, this was work, right at the beginning of creation – otherwise why would God have rested on the seventh day?
So this picture of heaven where we will have escaped evil, terrible work, sitting under a beach umbrella sipping mai-tais – in other words – on permanent vacation – is somehow theologically off. Work is not fallen; bad work is. Work itself is intrinsically good, and pre-Fall. This tells me:
- Work is an ideal state
- The work we do here on earth is a reflection of heaven
- The work we do here on earth can bring heaven to earth
Redemption. That is what the Gospel is about. Redemption of all things. Good work brings us back to the Garden of Eden, turns cities into Gardens.
2. FALLEN WORK IS BAD
The “toil” of work mentioned in the verses above regards work as resulting from Fall, in other words work resulting from sin. I believe any work done by a Christian is sanctified work, holy work, spiritual. But there is no such thing as a diligent, hard working, sanctified… pickpocket. Or a glorious, holy, sacred… human trafficker. The work must be ethical for it to be redeemable. Now many of us do not work in professions in such blatant violation of what is right and wrong, but many of us do struggle with the less than blatant ethics violations, the white lies, the inflated numbers. Remember: work resulting from sin becomes fallen work; these are areas of challenge and honesty for us as we endeavor to sanctify our labors. Ministers and pastors and preachers are not the only ones called to holy vocation. Therefore we must all strive towards more sanctified work.
3. EVERYONE IS CALLED TO “VOCATION”
“Vocation”, not “vacation”. I don’t snub the latter. On that see / hear our teaching on Sabbath: http://www.wovenchurch.org/sermons/2016/8/31/on-sabbath
Vocation comes from the Latin, vocatio, which is a Christian term for works that we are divinely called to. It is holy work, and not just for the priesthood. It was extended to the laity and rightly so, that all can be engaged in a vocatio that is uniquely gifted and divinely conferred and called to. I saw three necessary elements to “vocatio”:
- Giftedness – we cannot presume to do what we were not created for. Vocatio is to work with your natural giftings and inclinations.
- Preparation – nothing replaces good preparation for our fields. As a student I had a natural inclination to synthesize thought in creative ways that people could understand; but it is preparation that made me a preacher.
- Calling – there must be a divine element to this. A discernment process, sometimes difficult. We must not only be gifted and prepared, we must be called from above to do this labor – whatever it is – for the kingdom.
So this series preaches from the heart for me, and I hope it equips and empowers you in your respective marketplaces! #sanctifyMONtoFRI!