Do we dread going to work? are we fed up of it and looking to get another job elsewhere or looking forward to retirement? or are you missing it due to not being able to work at moment?
As some of you will be aware, I have spent the last year and a half reading the old testament, and still have some way to go. One of the Characters in the old testament that impresses me is Daniel. Lets look at Daniel 6 v 3-5
3 Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. 4 At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent. 5 Finally these men said, “We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God.”
Daniel was surrounded by hostile people who would do anything to discredit him, faced with moral issues in society and work, trouble with supervisors and with the culture trying to influence him into idolatry. Some of us can relate to these problems in the workplace! Daniel has a powerful and wonderful testimony and is a great example to us all.
We too like Daniel are called to be salt and light (Matthew 5) in our society and changing society for the good. This was done in what is often called “secular employment”. One of the things I struggled with as a young Christian was the following terms banded about in Christian circles of secular and spiritual. As if there are two worlds we live and work in, which are separate. This was brought home to me when I visited a friend at university who had moved away from home to study, and he said it was really odd having me mix with his university friends as they were two different groups in his mind.
Are there two worlds where we behave and operate differently? Do we behave differently with friends and work colleagues who are non-Christians, or neighbours, than we would do when we are with Christian friends or at Church – or currently during Zoom meetings?
The church has struggled with its approach to the world and have taken one of three positions.
1. Separation – Christians cut themselves off from the world, believing that we should spend all of our time with Christians, other than to evangelise. How many of us now only have Christian friends?
2. Accommodation – being the same as the world – people can see no difference between how a Christian behaves and acts than a non christian. This is often a result of liberal teaching of the Bible.
3. Engagement – Christians seek to engage with society which is the thought of Jesus’ prayer in John 17 v 15 – “I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. … My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one ” His disciples were to remain in the world, but it will be difficult.
It took me a while to realise that there is just one world – created by God and no artificial splits. This also applies to the importance of Work. Often Christians have an unofficial pecking order of employment…. thinking that some occupations are more important than others. Currently the “key worker” phrase is being used that is causing people to think that their job is more important than others. Is this a biblical viewpoint? We also in our minds have a pecking order of what work is most important…. such as full time evangelists, missionary workers are top, followed by other spiritual work, and then have a rank of different types of work, possibly ending with Estate Agents, Lawyers and politicians on the bottom?
This also impacts the prayer life in the Church, where we often pray for missionaries, evangelists for blessing in their work, but forget to pray for people who work in schools, NHS, local government, business people, factories and shops etc. and that they will cope with the pressures they are under (like Daniel) and be able to demonstrate to others Christ’s love.
I don’t believe these unofficial pecking order of importance is in line with God’s view. Paul wrote in Colossians 3 v 23 -” Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men”. Daniel did this in his day and we are to do the same.
God may be using you in your workplace, as strategically as an Evangelist or missionary to have an impact on those who are around you, as well as showing others what Jesus and Christianity is like. Your employment is important as you are working for the Lord and being a witness for him every day to those around you, which is as important a role as a full time christian worker. You are the living example of Jesus to others, a living example of sermons preached over Zoom or on pre-recorded messages. You could be used by God to bring others to know him.
Over the last few years some of the Christians I have looked up to for many years have been called home to be with the Lord. At the funeral service, I have heard testimonies about how they became Christians and quite often this has been because someone in the workplace had shared their faith with them, and invited them to find out more. Often it has been the way the person has behaved in the workplace that had attracted them to find out more about Jesus and Christianity.
I have been challenged by why people are not being saved at our local church over the last few years. Perhaps one of the contributing factors is that we have forgotten how we can make an impact in the workplace, and invite others to come to know the Lord. If you think we as a church can benefit by learning more about how we can share our faith with others in the workplace, social hobby, school or in personal evangelism, please let me know.
You are called to be Salt and light in this world (Matthew 5 v 13-16) please do not waste this opportunity to have an impact on others in the workplace, at home, with family as well as blessing the Church.