By: Brian Harris
Is most of your week spent hanging out for the weekend, insufferably long hours in the office slowly ticking away while you wait for the magical 5pm Friday moment when you are free to go and enjoy life?
For many people work is a drudge, a necessary evil that provides the money to keep food on the table. It’s the story of the man asked why he was digging a hole: “I’m digging the hole, to earn the money, to buy the food, to give me the strength, to dig the hole.” It’s a sad way to live a life – how awful to wish away 5 out of 7 days each week.
There are those who feel that this is the way it should be. After all, Genesis 3 informs us that after the world’s first humans shook the fist at God and decided to go their own way, a quick consequence was that food production required the sweat of our brow, and as often as not, the earth produced only thorns and thistles. In short, work became hard work – instead of the joyous and creative labour that had previously characterised their life in the Garden of Eden, this was now tedious and soul destroying stuff. In Eden they had named the animals – a rather fun task. There all labour had a quick return. There the trees were both pleasing to the eye and good for food. That was paradise. Their new setting was not. Work was now punishment.
OK – so it’s the old story. The fall has ruined everything, and that is just the way it is. So naturally I spend 5 days of the week longing for the other 2.
Stop right there!
There Is A Better Way
To passively accept the consequences of that first act of disobedience is sub-Christian. It assumes that the Cross and resurrection of Jesus has had very little impact on the world. It has far too small a view of the difference that Jesus makes to everything. It is to forget the Col 3:17 instruction: “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Do it all in the name of Jesus. Work, play, eat, sleep – all in the name of Jesus.
In Christian thought, work has often been linked to vocation. Vocation comes from the Latin vocare, meaning to call. Our first call is to faithfully follow Jesus. That however takes us along a tangible path – our particular path – the way we follow Jesus day by day. And for most of us, that means that 5 out of 7 days we offer our labour at a specific workplace not primarily to those who employ us, but as our way of doing everything in the name of Jesus.
Is our workplace one where many are harassed or undermined? Not if we can do something about it – for we are there in the name of Jesus. Is our workplace one where customers are slyly misled? Not if we can do something about it – for we are there in the name of Jesus. Is our workplace one where good service is offered, the price is fair, and good is done? Absolutely – if we have something to do about it – for we are there in the name of Jesus.
For Those Who Don’t Work
What if we don’t have a workplace? We don’t need to limit our thinking to how we get the dollars that keep us afloat, but can expand it to how we live out our faith in the world. That can include child care, being a neighbour, working out how to be a hospital patient – and doing it all in the name of Jesus.
It’s about living out our faith in the world – not in the church. Strange how so many who follow Jesus become church centric – but as the wonderful Jesus followers who meet at our local church are often reminded, “the reason for our gathering is the scattering” or “we are gathered to be scattered”. What happens in church is supposed to equip us to be God’s people in God’s world for the other days of the week.
Some preaching advice I was given was to always ask the “3 T” question. It takes a few formats: “This Time Tomorrow” or “This Time Tuesday” or “This Time Thursday”. In other words, when preaching look at the congregation and ask, what will they be doing this time tomorrow, or this time Thursday? It’s unlikely that they will be in a church setting then. How will what I am saying equip them or work out for them in that very different context – for we gather to gain the wisdom and compassion and courage to live as God’s people for all the other days of the week. And we really aren’t being equipped if we spend 5 days longing for the 2 when we aren’t at work.
Well, I’m writing this at 6pm Friday – clearly it’s time to knock off for the weekend. And what a good week it has been – for following Jesus opens so many doors. Now its the weekend, and that’s great. But Monday’s coming – and that’s wonderful as well. Actually, following Jesus is a 24/7/365 privilege be it 8am Saturday, or Monday or whenever. For whatever we do, we can do it in the name of Jesus.