Until recently, I always had a nagging suspicion that the more explicitly “Christian” one’s work is, such as being a pastor or working for a Christian organization, the more pleasing to God it would be.
I had always told myself that you don’t have to be doing specifically “Christian” work to be doing the work of God, but deep down I had my doubts.
After listening to a few people from the Theology of Work project talk about this, I am now convinced that our work does not have to be specifically what we call “Christian” to be godly.
For me it is a matter of theology. It goes to the heart of what we really think the kingdom of God is all about. After all, Jesus spoke about the kingdom more than anything else in the gospels, so it obviously has huge importance.
What is the Kingdom?
Is the kingdom of God about getting people saved and doing a bit to help the poor along the way? Or is all of life, all our creativity, and all our God-given ability, something that can please God and be useful for the kingdom?
I am convinced it is the latter.
We all have gifts and abilities that have been bestowed upon us by God. This means it is actually our responsibility to use them for the furtherance of the kingdom. All of life is made by God and is loved by God. As Rikk Watts has said, God gets excited by timber!
Any Work is God’s Work
Some time ago I went to the doctor, one I had only seen once or twice previously. As we got talking, he asked what I did for a living, so I told him I work for a Christian organization. Being a believer himself, he said he admired someone who did God’s work.
But wasn’t his work just as much God’s work as is mine? As a doctor he helps people physically recover from all sorts of ailments. He is faithfully engaging in the work of the kingdom.
The Inauguration of the Kingdom
In Jesus the kingdom of God has broken into history. His acts of kindness, humility, love, and compassion were all signs and pointers to the kingdom of God – the reign of God.
Through his death and resurrection we have the promise of a future world – right here on this earth.
And our task is to work for this kingdom in the here and now. So any work that is kingdom-oriented, that is, any work of love, justice, kindness, or creativity, is of benefit, is of significance, and is of God. Public service, when used properly, is of God; music, when used properly, is of God; art, when used properly, is of God.
Using your Gifts in the Kingdom
God is the ultimate creative One, and as people made in the image of God, we are to be likewise creative. So, if making music makes you come alive, do it for the glory of God. If teaching math makes you come alive, do it for the glory of God. Generally, our gifts are those things which make us come alive.
For me it is writing. I love it. I love expressing myself this way. I love trying to teach people about what I believe are the ways of the God I believe in and who I am convinced has revealed himself in the person of Jesus Christ.
With every gift though there is the opportunity for abuse. When I write, I am constantly tempted by the thought of what people will think of it, by egotistical thoughts of thousands of people reading it and telling me and others how good I am.
If this is our motive for using our gift, it is no longer a gift; it is an idol. And idols destroy.
We must constantly examine our motivations when we exercise our gifts. As we are people who have a tendency to be self-centered, we need others to keep us sane.
So find out what makes you come alive, if you haven’t already. And then, don’t wait for a lightning bolt from God. Go and pursue it with all your energy.
Above all, pray. Pray for humility, for integrity, and that your gift will be used not for your glory, but for the glory of God and for the furtherance of his wonderful kingdom here on earth.