Category Archives: Christian in the workplace

What Will Work Be Like in the New Heaven and Earth? Russell Gehrlein October 12, 2017

In your job today, you will likely experience the “thorns and thistles” that have come as a result of the Fall; the reality is that work will be difficult until Christ returns. But what happens to work when Jesus comes back, and Adam’s curse from Genesis 3:16-19 is no more, as it states in Revelation 22:3: “No longer will there be any curse”?

Here are some key points worth considering:

  • At the consummation of all things, Christians and the earth will be fully redeemed (Rev. 21:1-5)
  • Many aspects of human work will continue in the New Jerusalem (Isa. 65:21-23)
  • It may even include the best of human culture and achievements, past, present, and future such as the wheel, Handel’s “Messiah,” food, architecture, roads, government, technology, etc. (Rev. 21:24, 26)
  • There will be no more need for doctors, lawyers, counselors, or wheelchair manufacturers

If we understand that some of the things we do now could be carried over into eternity, it can radically change our attitudes and actions in our work. It means it has eternal value.

Tom Nelson, in Work Matters: Connecting Sunday Worship to Monday Work, states,

If our daily work, done for the glory of God and the common good of others, in some way carries over to the new heavens and new earth, then our present work itself is overflowing with immeasurable value and eternal significance.

In plain terms, we need to see the huge impact of the great reversal of the curse, where sinless humanity and its relationship to work are restored to pre-Fall conditions.

Focus on the New Creation

Just imagine what our work could be like in the New Creation without the pain, frustration, stress, difficulty, unpredictability, sweat, and interpersonal conflict between sinners that we currently experience in our labor due to the Fall.

The possibility that there will be work for us to do is implied in the scriptures. The prophet Micah suggests that we don’t just lay down our weapons, we will pick up instruments of work: “They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks” (Mic. 4:3).

If there is work, it will not seem like it, as the quality of workers and the workplace will be fully restored. There will be no corrupt leaders, workaholism, unemployment, sexual harassment, racial discrimination, greed, exploitation of workers, etc., that exist in a fallen world. We will no longer experience the power or the presence of sin. Work relationships will not be characterized by conflict, but by peace, fellowship, and unity. The hopeless message of vanity of Ecclesiastes 1 will vanish. There will be no meaninglessness in life and work “under the sun” because we will all be “under the Son.”

Revelation 21:1-5 gives us a description of what to expect at the consummation, after Jesus returns and the judgment of Satan and his followers is complete. You can see that contrary to popular belief, heaven is not a place of disembodied spirits playing harps up in the clouds. The New Jerusalem will come down to earth, where God will dwell for all eternity with those whose names are found in the Lamb’s book of life and where there will be no more death or sadness or pain.

Michael Wittmer, in Becoming Worldly Saints, reminds us that God’s future plan is not destruction, but restoration:

God did not say, “I am making new everything!” but rather “I am making everything new!” He does not promise to make new things to furnish the new earth, but to renew the things that are already here.

Paul Stevens, in Work Matters: Lessons from Scripture, agrees, “Our final destiny is not a workless utopia but a renewed world in which we will work with infinite creativity and fulfillment.”

Nelson concurs: “Your work in the new creation will be even better than it was in the old creation. God has a great future in store for his image-bearing workers.”

In his book, The Heavenly Good of Earthly Work, Darrell Cosden ponders more specifically what our work will be like,

Our sanctified imaginations can only suggest what we think God’s promise to make all things new might mean…There will be, no doubt, some specific products of our work that through judgment will be transformed and incorporated into the “new physics” of the new creation. I am quite hoping that Handel’s Messiah will be regularly in concert in the New Jerusalem.

Wittmer suggests that Bach and Michelangelo will be there with time to create even better works.

What Kind of Work Will We Do?

This is only my biblically informed speculation, but it appears to me that there will be two categories of jobs that we will not find anywhere in the eternal kingdom.

  1. There will be a small number of obvious jobs that will no longer exist because evil is no more (e.g., pimps, hit men, counterfeiters, porn film directors, and drug dealers).
  2. However, there will be a much larger number of jobs that will no longer exist because they are no longer needed since fallen humanity and the Earth have been restored. While the eternal value of the earthly work remains, these types of jobs and career fields will be unnecessary in the New Jerusalem: morticians, law enforcement, light bulb manufacturers, lawyers, doctors, wheelchair manufacturers, psychologists, and many more. Those that served in these areas will likely continue to apply their unique design to work that is needed.

Stevens writes that our future work will be all that God originally designed it to be—fulfilling,

Work in the new heaven and new earth will be all that good work was intended to be. Perhaps what we will be doing is what we have done in this life but without the sweat and frustration experienced here…Since there will be no curse on work, the workplace, or the worker, labor will be personally and completely satisfying, far more than was obtainable in this life.

Although there are a lot of unanswered questions about the nature of our work for all eternity, these insights should still give us a tremendous amount of hope. They should cause us all to reflect on Paul’s words of encouragement in the context of his teaching on the bodily resurrection of believers: “Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Cor. 15:58).

 

Editor’s Note: Learn more about the eternal value of work in All Things New: Rediscovering the Four-Chapter Gospel by Hugh Whelchel. 

God places us in our vocation

C.F.W. Walther was the first president of the Lutheran Church in the United States. The following is from a collection of his sermons from Concordia Publishing House. He talks about how we are placed in and used by the Holy Spirit in the vocation we are in for a reason. Dr Martin Luther made vocation an important part of his issues with the Roman Catholic Church. The Roman Church had been teaching that those who are in “religious” vocations are on a higher level than the rest of the worldly vocations. That somehow priests, nuns, monks, do work that is more important. Luther took issue with that in that we are all placed in our vocation by God for His purposes. Therefore since we are in those vocations at God’s behest, we are serving Him to the best of our abilities in that vocation.

As a good Lutheran pastor, Dr. Walther certainly is in tune with Dr Luther’s views. The following is from a sermon he gave based on Luke 5: 1-11:

“In today’s reading, we encounter Saint Peter working diligently in his earthly calling. He explains to Christ that he has worked patiently through the entire night. Although he has caught nothing [no fish], he does not give up the difficult vocation of fishing to seek something more rewarding. Instead, we find him the next morning washing his nets with his partners and preparing to try again.

Every true Christian will work diligently and untiringly. He will not leave his chosen vocation without real cause, recalling the words of the apostle Paul; ‘So, brothers, in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God’ (1 Corinthians 7:24). This is not, however, a distinguishing mark of the Christian since unbelievers can also pursue a vocation with dedication and endurance. In some cases, a non-Christian may even surpass a Christian in his devotion to his work.

How, then, does the true Christian show himself to be such by his earthly work? The first thing we notice from Peter’s example is that, although he was very industrious, he laid his net aside and carefully listened to Jesus as soon as He began to preach. Moreover, he permitted Jesus to use his boat as a pulpit when the people on the shore crowded Him from all sides. Finally, when Jesus called him to be a fisher of men, Peter immediately ‘left everything and followed Him’ (Luke 5:11)'”

In the midst of his earthly work, a true Christian shows that it is not the principal activity of his life. Indeed, he places his heavenly calling above his earthly one. He seeks first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. He does not let his bodily work be a hindrance in caring for his soul. He would rather interrupt his bodily support than be without nourishment for his soul from the precious Word of God.

Today’s text tells us even more about Peter. When he let down his net and caught such a great number of fish that the net tore, he did not in any way attribute the success to himself, his diligence, his wisdom, or his worthiness. Instead, ‘he fell down at Jesus’ knees saying, ‘Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!’ (Luke 5:8). He regarded his great success as a blessing of Christ alone that he did not earn. Here we see the second way a person reveals in his earthly work that he is a true Christian. He does not believe he can preserve himself by his work, his diligence, and his wisdom. but only be awaiting his daily bread from God’s faithfulness. He does not lose heart if his worked proves fruitless, but instead places his reliance upon God. If his work is crowned with success, he receives it as a gift of grace from His heavenly Father. He does not bind himself to earthly things, but separates himself from them that he might be drawn to Christ all the more.

There is one more way in which Peter demonstrated in his work that he was a true Christian. When Jesus had stopped speaking, ‘He said to Simon, ‘Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch”’ (Luke 5:4). His command was completely contrary to the rules of fishing and Peter’s own experience. The best fishing is not in the depths of the open sea but close to shore; it is also not during the day but at night. How does Peter respond? ‘And Simon answered, ‘Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at Your word I will let down the nets'” (Luke 5:5). This is how all true Christians work. They are motivated by God’s command because His Word says, ‘By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread’ (Genesis 3:19). Christians therefore daily say, in the conviction of their heart, ‘But at Your word I will let down the nets.”‘

“And gently grant Thy blessing That we may do Thy will, No more Thy ways transgressing, Our proper task fulfill, With Peter’s full assurance Let down our nets again. Success will crown endurance If faithful we remain. Amen (The Lutheran Hymnal p 544:5)

(Translated by Gerhard P. Grabenhofer “God Grant it: Daily Devotions from C.F.W. Walther” pp 551-553)

Passion for Jesus, desire and drive to serve Him and others for Him

In  a business context I can understand the following quote in Forbes: “They should be doers, not managers. You need people who are hungry to prove themselves and to help you win by feeding off your passion and their experience.” (Forbes Magazine Sept 7, 2015 p 39)

I’m taking this quote a little out of context, but it really is applicable to the church, especially in terms of “passion”. We have the ultimate Savior of the universe, who in His “passion” died for us in order for us to have the assurance of eternal life in the New Earth, the Resurrection. Frankly, Christians, the church, the whole Christian community really does need to act in that passion. Now I’m not talking about phoney Pentecostalism “passion”, just a show put on to convince others that you are somehow singled out by the Holy Spirit and a show more for your own pleasure then genuine worship of God. I am talking about passion in doing what we are called to serve Jesus. An intensity, a desire, more of a passion that a man would express, pushing for what is important, having the integrity to stand up for what is right. That certainly is missed in the church, we really see passion in terms of what we want to please us. This is not what we are called to do in Jesus. As I said, that passion, in a business sense, is how to we make this sale, how do we achieve our quarterly goals, how do we serve best those who are stakeholders in what we do, how do we make the best product or provide the best service, truly believing in what you do.

Too often in the church of the last century passion has been more in terms of what will be “pleasing”, entertaining, having people leave with a big smile on their face because the pastor told them, no matter how sinful and unrepentant the person is, that they’re just fine and God really is just a wishy-washy people pleaser. We know that it’s not true. God expects us to live and act in Christian integrity. He expects us to step up to serve Him. I preached on Elijah, 1 Kings 19, this Sunday. Elijah was certainly put through a lot to serve God. I am sure that for too many who call themselves “Christian”, if they were called on by God to do what Elijah was asked to do, well, they’d pull the usual phoney move and decide that they need to go to another church.

These “people-pleasers” of the last century have really set the church up for failure. Taking the easy way out, being managers instead of leaders. Making sure the numbers are still up, but not doing the job with the integrity required in order to proclaim Jesus and what He wants in His church. This sort of “country-club” type of “Christian”, everything’s pretty, aesthetically pleasing, pleasant to the ear, then we go on with our regular life, church worship having essentially no impact. These “managers” are not there to prove themselves in Jesus, they’re there to make sure that the boat isn’t rocked. If no one gets mad and leaves then they’ve succeeded. Really?! seems to me that in John 6:66 (interesting that this verse should have this number, “Then Jesus said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to Me unless the Father has granted it to him.”66 From that time on, many of His disciples turned back and no longer accompanied Him. 67 So Jesus asked the Twelve, “Do you want to leave too?” 68 Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words of eternal life.…” Hmmm, Jesus had a whole lot of people walk out on Him! Case could even be made that he was down to much fewer at the end. Only about 4 were with Him at the Cross. But Peter, John, Mary, a remnant of disciples knew what was genuine, had integrity and they stuck with Jesus even though it was obviously not the popular thing to do anymore.

There are times and places when you do have to “manage”, make sure things get done. Pastors do have to be managers sometimes, there is church business they have to attend to. But our Savior was passionate for us, He wasn’t there to be a people pleaser, and He let a whole lot of people know that. We pastors cannot be in our positions to just entertain or indulge, we are called on to proclaim Jesus and to be His disciples and all that means. To be hungry for Jesus, for His Kingdom and for the eternal life in the resurrection. If we are hungry for that, shouldn’t we be instilling that hunger in others? Too often pastors are simply about lulling people into a nice, warm feeling of security. We should have a passion, meaning acting with integrity, striving to proclaim Jesus at every point, a passion to do our best to help anyone we know, to know true life and true salvation in Jesus. To truly read and study His revelation, the Bible. To help others to genuinely present Jesus to all they know, really a manly passion of what is right and truly salutary in Jesus and to stand under the stress that people in the world and yes, in the church will put you under to compromise with the world and divide your loyalty between the world and the church of Christ. We look for those opportunities to serve to help in a material way, but to remember that we are not social workers, that we are always first and foremost to serve the Creator, Sustainer, Lord and Savior of the universe, to point people to Him so they will know true life in the baptized life of Jesus and will move from their and act accordingly. Anything else is indulgence and people pleasing and not doing anyone any good. It’s managing, but the result is into condemnation and not challenging them and lifting them up which is passion and Christian leadership. What we all need to have “life and life more abundant.”

How should that look at your workplace? How should that look in every area of your life? Are we truly about church being one thing and then as soon as we’re out the door, on to the more important(?) things. Or are we men of integrity truly striving to serve our family, our church, our vocation and always, most importantly our Lord and Savior, with true passion, strength and integrity.

All are welcome to talk about this more Wednesdays 10am, the coffee shop at the corner of W King and Beaver Sts in downtown York, Pa. The church is at 140 W King, you’re welcome to park right behind, walk about half a block to the coffee shop. I always buy first timers their coffee.

Christians are faithful servants, at church and the workplace

I have really appreciated Patrick Morley’s book “A Man’s Guide to Work”. Along with Gene Veith’s books, these make some great observations about our faith life in Christ being as much a part of our Christian life as church. Too often we, may, be at church on Sunday, then Monday in full world’s mode in our work life. It is difficult to distinguish our faith life and our work life, we should be integrating them when we are really compartmentalizing them. We can’t continue to do this, we have to stand up as Christians in the workplace especially when the world continues to marginalize Christians.

Part of that effort needs to be in terms of how we actually work. Too often we fall into the world’s mold of mediocrity, we do what we have to do by spending the minimum amount of time and effort on our part. Clock hits 5pm and we’re out the door? At the minimum we are being paid for 8 hours, it better be 8 and maybe five minutes more, at least. Wasting time and effort is not a good stewardship witness to our employer or our fellow workers. We can certainly be an example that, as Christians, we are serious about our work life and want that to be a witness to Jesus too.

Morley makes an interesting observation on the Parable of the Talents, Matthew 25: 14-30 (p 31) to show that we have been entrusted with our work/vocation by God too and mediocrity is just not acceptable. Quoting Morley: A wealthy man has three employees. To the first one he gives what is about $60,000 in today’s money. A meaningful amount of money.

Like any of us, if we are entrusting money or any other asset to someone else what are we expecting? For that person to make money for us, n’est ce pas? If they don’t and granted quite often they don’t, then we are not going to be satisfied and we really shouldn’t be. To the second employee he gave $24,000, again a material amount of money. To the last he gave $12,000. Still a material amount, but five times less than the other guy, apparently this employer kind of knew something, and you know what, Jesus knows about us and what He’ll trust us with, but the employer still entrusted the employee with a substantial amount.

Whether it’s the end of the month, quarter, half-year, year-end, the employer comes back and is looking for their reports. Now the first two guys, wow, they doubled the employers money. Wow! We would all take that kind of return now wouldn’t we? Hopefully both of those guys are Christians and since the Lord is relating this parable, I’d like to assume they not only made that money by honest means and, to go even further as we should as Christians, with integrity as a witness to the Lord. Don’t want any Bernie Madoffs here.

Now the last employee, he decided, for whatever reason that well he was afraid, he was lazy, he didn’t want to fail, blah, blah, there are always excuses. Is that what you want when you get your report from someone handling your money? For that matter, do you want to be the guy always making excuses. No on both counts, you want a respectable return, I’m sure you’re paying this person and now they’ve just handed back to you a respectable amount of money and said “see, I’ve kept your money safe for you.” Ya, well, I could have probably found a cheaper way if I was just looking for safe. But that’s what we get for so many people in today’s world, “well at least I didn’t lose anything”. Brother I could have opened a 2% CD and gotten a little back, with you all I got was grief and aggravation. Morely quotes “The Message Bible” quoting Jesus as saying: “…And get rid of this ‘play-it-safe’ who won’t go out on a limb. Throw him out into utter darkness.” You know what Jesus is serious about what we do.

Yes I’m sure there are those out there who are utterly horrified that Jesus would be so harsh. Hmmmm, you mean the guy who was tortured, beaten, nail to a cross, humiliated and left to die, that we should expect to only give Him back, at best, mediocrity? He gave His best, but it’s OK, I’m not even going to give you back anything respectable. A bagful of beans for the man who gave His all. Shocking, right? But wow, we do it all the time. We won’t go out on a limb for Him, we can’t even sacrifice a tiny little bit of our precious dignity to step out and tell someone all about Jesus and what He has done for me. Oh, no, the guys on the soft-ball team might think I’m kind of a twit while they’re swilling beer.

It’s about integrity and being serious. Too much of the world is about going through the motions, maximizing what’s in it for me, in the third employee’s case, it was about minimizing his time and effort and making more time for that beer swilling softball game, that’s just so much more important then integrity at work or integrity in Jesus.

Yea, maybe all the cool kids try to show how cool they are by ripping off their employers, standing around when you could be doing something (oh that’s not my job). What makes you think it was Jesus’ job to go through all He went through for us? As those who are faithful to Him who has been so faithful to us, how can we not give our best in everything we do? I know, I get it, sometimes it does feel like you’re running on fumes, and Jesus is there to care for you in the difficult times as much as He is to motivate us. We certainly can look to Jesus for motivation in whatever we do, but mediocrity, lack of integrity, trying to get more than you give are not acceptable to Him who gave all. As Christians we are to be the stand up guys, and you know what, you will be misunderstood, you will be mocked by your co-workers, but they will also have a model that they can’t deny. At some point it is on them, is this a game where you keep being mediocre or is it for real and it is all about your best effort and how you serve your organization, your fellow workers, your family, your community, your Lord and Savior. Ya, go ahead and mock, but I’m going with living my life to the best of my ability in all the areas of my life. For those who want to lead that mediocre life, I really don’t understand how you can expect the best from others and how you can look yourself in the face. But you do. Let’s be great Christian brothers and strive to go far above what anyone expects. You will fall short, it won’t always work out the way you planned, but no one can say that it was for your lack of trying.

You are welcome to come and discuss further, your suggestions about building a group that is looking to be faithful to Jesus in our worklife are welcome. Right now we have a small group that meets at the coffeeshop at the corner of W King and Beaver Sts in York, Pa. We meet on Wednesdays at 10am, all are welcome, park right behind the church at 140 W King St. I will even buy you your first cup of coffee! See you there.

Let’s step up and really live our Christian life in the workplace and in church

OK, now I’m a little spun up.

Innocently watching the Red Sox, enjoying a rare day, as a Pastor, of no actual work to do. Yea, I spent 20 years in corporate finance, I actually had three day weekends, OK, not often then either, but a lot more than as a pastor. Trying to catch up on the 90 books on my Kindle and then I read this.

The following is from Bill Diehl, a Lutheran layperson who was an executive with Bethlehem Steel. I am a Lutheran pastor, don’t know if the same “Lutheran” as Mr Diehl and yes this was written well before I became a pastor. Furthermore I will stipulate that too many of my fellow pastors I have known have only been students or pastors. Too many have no meaningful experience in anything else and yes I’m a little unusual. But still, this got under my skin:

“Bill Diehl, as noted earlier, is a former sales manager with Bethlehem Steel, active Lutheran layperson, author, and leader in the FAW movement. Diehl has been sharply critical of what the church professes about lay ministry and Christian vocation versus what it actually does to affirm and equip those called to live out their vocation in the marketplace. In a comment that could easily have come from a typical FAW participant of today, in 1976 Diehl expressed his sense of abandonment from the church (note that a careful reading of his words also reveals concern about all of the Four E’s of ethics, evangelism, experience, and enrichment):In the almost 30 years of my professional career, my church has never once suggested that there be any type of accounting of my on-the-job ministry to oth…”

“In the almost 30 years of my professional career, my church has never once suggested that there be any type of accounting of my on-the-job ministry to others. My church has never offered to improve those skills which could make me a better minister, nor has it ever asked if I needed any kind of support in what I was doing. There has never been an inquiry into the types of ethical decisions I must face, or whether I seek to communicate the faith to my co-workers. I have never been in a congregation where there was any type of public affirmation of a ministry in my career[as a sales manager]. In short, I must conclude that my church really doesn’t have the least interest in whether or how I minister in my daily work.14” Maybe Mr Diehl if you were going to a serious church, which I bet you’re not, you would be living a serious Christian life. I get the distinct feeling that Mr Diehl might think he knows about Christian discipleship, but I doubt that he really has the discernment and understanding of what genuine Christian discipleship is, because he went to a church that was all about a patronizing Christianity himself. A little discernment to a lot of know-it all types of all stripes would go a long way.

I have been busting my crank to reach out to people in the corporate world since I started in ministry. I now have over 5 years of ministry experience added to my 20 years of corporate experience and 29 years of military experience. Add to that a Masters of Divinity degree (many of these people don’t have more than an undergraduate degree in anything) Whenever I try to reach out to someone in the corporate world I usually get this patronizing pat on the head that I somehow don’t know what I’m talking about. Hmmm, my bachelors is in business administration  from Lesley University (a over 100 year old private college in Cambridge, Ma.) I started my corporate work life at 21 years old, working for Chase Manhattan Commercial Corp., then went to Motorola, Fleet National Bank, a year working for the Massachusetts State Treasurer, Robert Half International, Town and Country Fine Jewelry. In my corporate finance position, I was responsible for handling monthly seven-figure balances, dealing with some of the largest corporations in the United States. In addition 29 years in the Coast Guard reserve being involved in serious search and rescue cases, law enforcement and military operations. I served in a deployable unit in Naval Coastal Warfare being deployed to do security in Vieques and force protection in Spain. Carried a gun on a regular basis, yes even as a reservist, served four years active duty in War on Terror. When I returned to my corporate job my very large corporate employer, was less than, well let’s just say cordial or receptive. Soooo you can spare me patronizing little pats, I will compare my resume and life experience with Mr Diehl or anyone else for that matter.

I have made repeated attempts in various ways to get a ministry that Mr Diehl might have found helpful. This does not include “The Christian Businessman’s we’re calling to tell everyone what they’re supposed to do, because we’ve just got it altogether group”. There’s way too much of that too. I was part of a group back in Boston that was a rather high-level group and they were there to genuinely live their life in the workplace. I believe very much in this.

Having said all this, I am  wholeheartedly inviting you to take on this challenge. No I’m not an expert in this area. I would love to write a book, because frankly I think there are very few books that have as much perspective on this subject as I do. There are a lot of books out there on the subject, I think I can add a lot to that discussion, maybe for my PhD dissertation. In the meantime, if you are serious, I double-dawg dare you to take me up on this challenge. Is it going to be perfect or a whiz-bang production already pre-packaged? No. I am a parish pastor, believe me I have plenty to do. I also serve as a York City, Pa. police chaplain. I will compare my challenges to you anytime. Let me know the next time you get called out of bed at 2am for an accounting emergency. I’ve gotten called out to tell someone their child was killed, to provide comfort to a victim of a crime and a suicide, (a lot of less dramatic, although compelling times also)

I want to do this very badly. Yes, I do want this to be part of growing the congregation I’ve been called to. And before you get all hoidy-toidy about; “you probably just have an elderly congregation, no one with any real substance.” It’s not big, nowhere as big as it should. But it serves an inner-city constituency with a number of people with meaningful corporate experience. Maybe it’s time to leave your nice, pretty, big-box church and do some actual Christian discipleship and get over the idea you should have some nice pretty church and go to one that was built to the glory of God. A church that is a genuine growth opportunity to make a meaningful impact in a difficult environment. But frankly, you won’t. People who work in offices are used to and expect the amenities and they’re not really interested in stretching themselves for the Lord. “Hey I show up every other Sunday and put my $5 in the plate.” Oh yeah, isn’t that just special of you, a real put it on the line Christian! (Yea I can be patronizing too.)

One of our accomplishments has been to start and operate a 100 watt FM radio station, 106.1 in case you want to listen,

Home

take a listen if you have time to drag yourself away from your big dinner. (I did go to some pretty nice places in my corporate life)  Add in a Grief Share group, an employment support group, food bank, fitness center, all this we’ve done on a shoe string in the last five years. So think about that Mr “I’m a big-time corporate type”. If you feel that you should be living your life as a Christian in the workplace, you are right. I did my best, and yes I will admit with little pastoral help. But think twice before you give me a patronizing little pat just because I have a clerical collar on. I’ll compare my life experience to yours any time.

So, you going to take me up on this? A re-start challenge that will be a bigger challenge you’ve ever faced and for the Lord, Creator, Sustainer of the Universe our Savior Jesus Christ. How cool would that be to get a real group of Christian men and women together to put a real group (sans the pretentiousness, I’ve seen it done) to rebuild a grand old ministry, based on genuine Christian discipleship, to take back with you on Monday morning to live your life as a Christian 24/7.

I shouldn’t have asked, no one will take it on. Big corporate tough guys, talk a good game but you will just go back to your pretty, big-box churches where you can talk a good game, but mostly just sit back and be entertained. Yea…I tried, at least I’m back on the ground again and I’m living my life out according to God’s leading and not according to what makes me feel good.

We have an, albeit, small group that meets Wednesday mornings at 10am at the coffee shop at the corner of King and Beaver Sts in downtown York, Pa. You’re all welcome, and if you have better ideas; breakfasts, special evening events, weekends, I’m all ears let’s do it, seriously, let’s do something.

Serving God in His gifts to us 1 Corinthians 12 First Saint Johns January 17, 2016

[for the audio version of this sermon please click the above link]

We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and all those who use what God gave them to serve others and His church said … AMEN!

As Christians we have a lot of “vocations”, we often thing of vocation as a trade school kind of thing, but it actually means calling. Our very little Bible study that we do on Wednesday mornings, is about our different vocations as Christians, how we serve in those vocations as a Christian. We use a book by Dr Gene Veith, a Lutheran, who has a very Lutheran view of a Christian’s vocation or calling. Dr Veith emphasizes that we are called to live our Christian life in our worklife, as citizens, as parents, children, neighbors, our church, all to the glory of God. Dr Luther had a very different view of vocation/calling then the Roman church. The church of the time and even now saw Christian vocation in a very limited sense, only those “vocations” that were considered to be “religious”, were a valid calling, that is priests; from the parish to a bishop, cardinal, pope, monks, nuns, other auxiliary types of church servants. These people had a Christian vocation and because of their vocation, they were directly serving the church and therefore the church saw those vocations as “holy”. All other vocations were secular and not as important. The word vocation is from the Latin vocatio or voces, meaning “calling”. Luther saw every vocation in terms of our Christian life. You might be a plumber, but as a Christian you are called to that vocation by God, you are to serve as a Christian plumber.

One of the discussions that Dr Veith has is in terms of Christians serving as police officers, military, judges, corrections officers. That is positions where someone might have to use deadly force to compel someone to submit or can impose death on another person. Lutheran teaching is quite clear in this area, if we are serving those who are, secularly speaking, innocent victims, those who expect the government’s protection, then as Christians in order to compel submission /compliance, we can use deadly force. That applies to those who are duly appointed to positions of public safety, and it certainly applies to American citizens who can use deadly force in order to protect someone who might be subjected to violent or deadly force. Luther actually commends those Christians who are willing to serve in occupations that could result in death or serious injury. Those Christian sects which refuse to recognize this principle are just wrong. They claim that Christians are forbidden from killing another human being, that is just not true. The sixth commandment tells us not to “murder”, that is to take the life of someone who is, again, innocent, it does not forbid us from taking the life of someone who is trying to harm another person. I’ll bet if a terrorist is trying to ignite a bomb in a crowd you’re in and a police officer or military person kills to prevent the terrorist from killing others, women, elderly, children, you’re not going to stand there and wag your finger at that person and tell them they’re bad for shooting. There are Christians who will do just that and they don’t know what they’re talking about. God had no compunction telling Old Testament figures like Debroah, Joshua, David to take someone out who was threatening His people.

We as Christians are called to a number of vocations. God calls us to those vocations and He wants us to serve in those vocations to His glory. So if you are a Christian plumber, you have just as holy a calling as a church pastor. If you are called to be a Christian accountant, you are not just regulated under FASB, you are also regulated to the extent of what God expects you to be as a Christian accountant. I am sure that you know that means to a much higher standard than others who are plumbers, accountants, police officers, military, public office holders, on an on. How about our young people? “I’m not in church, I’m in my seventh grade classroom, so I don’t need to get all caught up in what God’s calling me to do as a student.” My response: “Wrongo, chalk breath”, if you are serving God as a student, does He not have a reason and a plan for you to be in that particular classroom, studying that particular subject? If you decide, “eh, history’s not that important, I can mess around and slack off in this class”. Again, wrongo. God has you in that class for a reason.

If we are faithfully serving God, those around us should know that, they should know we are Christians. Yes, we should profess our faith, tell people about our faith and what Jesus does in our lives. That’s one reason why we have “faith- sharing moments” at the end of worship. For you to tell us how you’ve shared your faith, and I think we all understand that the Holy Spirit can lead us to do that in the workplace, the classroom, the softball team, the Elks Lodge, etc, etc, never to disrupt what is going on, but at a time when you know you should, telling someone about Jesus, especially in the context of what they and/or you are dealing with at the moment. But since those around you probably know you’re a Christian, but they also know that you’re disruptive, unreliable, you don’t do your job well, or study well, in general you don’t strive for what is best and glorifies God, you create problems for those around you. How do you think they will view Christians and especially in terms of God. “Wow, how can I take God seriously, when the Christians around me tell me it’s all about God, and yet they’re lousy students, unhelpful, even harmful in their work?” They’re not going to think much of God because you’ve shown them that being a Christian and your relationship in Jesus isn’t serious in terms of your whole life. We are to show people that we are serious about our vocations, that our calling is not just to do a good job, but to also show that whatever we are doing, we are doing it to the glory of God. Everything we do should be to the glory of God, and should be in a way that truly shows excellence, team-building, loyalty, trustworthiness, and much more. Anything less shows others that God isn’t really worth knowing.

You might think it’s pretty limited what our callings are. For most people in the world they see their “vocation” as their employment and we, as Christians, certainly have a calling in our 9-5 work life. That calling is not just in terms of I show up, do what I’m supposed to do, punch out, go home and that’s that. As Christians we are called to a much higher standard. We also have to understand that in terms of “serving”

Finally serving does mean to the best of our ability in the church. Remember, we serve because it is God who enables us to serve, in many ways, and then guides us into the service that He wants us to perform. We have many here in the church that put their time, talent and treasure in service to God, to the church. God has inspired them to be where they are, doing what they’re doing to His glory. When we are faithfully following Him, we serve Him to the best of our ability, not just sit back and let others carry the load. Stewardship is a vitally important part of being a church member. It is a subject that I will be including in my sermons from now on. I don’t want to make stewardship a five week sermon series. But I do want to make sure you understand how God is leading you to serve His church by the best use of your financial offerings, the talents and skills that God has given you and the time and health God has given you to devote to His church. Look over our reading in 1 Corinthians. Paul writes that there are a variety of services, activities and gifts God gives us: “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” (12:7) How disobedient is it to have a God-given, gift, talent, time, and keep it entirely to yourself, fail to do anything with it in order to serve His church, His people and the people around you? We like to think that what we have is entirely because we’re such wonderful, special people and we deserve everything we get. As Christians we better know better than that! Whatever we have has been given to us by God and certainly we can enjoy it, benefit from it, grow in it, but we are not allowed to hoard it and not use it in service to others. People have hoarded their gifts, and at some point God simply pulls those gifts away from them. Could be money, could be a talent, could be your time. If you misuse it or don’t use it for God’s glory, He could decide to take it back, bestow it on someone God can trust to use it to the building of His Kingdom on earth.

The peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amin and Shalom

Glorify God at Work by John Piper

SEPTEMBER 6, 2011

How to Glorify God at Work


Just home from two weeks in Australia, I am brimming with thankfulness to God for his people there, and for the pleasures of working with them in Brisbane and Sydney and in the mountains of Katoomba.

One of the conferences was called Engage. It was focused on “young workers,” which, in their lingo, means young professionals in the workplace. I was asked in an interview if I thought this focus was a good idea. I said yes, because of 1 Corinthians 10:31, “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

So they asked: How can young workers glorify God at work?

Here’s the gist of my answer.

Dependence. Go to work utterly dependent on God (Proverbs 3:5-6; John 15:5). Without him you can’t breathe, move, think, feel, or talk. Not to mention be spiritually influential. Get up in the morning and let God know your desperation for him. Pray for help.

Integrity. Be absolutely and meticulously honest and trustworthy on the job. Be on time. Give a full day’s work. “Thou shalt not steal.” More people rob their employers by being slackers than by filching the petty cash.

Skill. Get good at what you do. God has given you not only the grace of integrity but the gift of skills. Treasure that gift and be a good steward of those skills. This growth in skill is built on dependence and integrity.

Corporate shaping. As you have influence and opportunity, shape the ethos of the workplace so that the structures and policies and expectations and aims move toward accordance with Christ. For example, someone is shaping the ethos ofChick-fil-A restaurants with this video.

Impact. Aim to help your company have an impact that is life-enhancing without being soul-destroying. Some industries have an impact that is destructive (e.g., porn, gambling, abortion, marketing scams, etc). But many can be helped to turn toward impact that is life-giving without being soul-ruining. As you have opportunity, work toward that.

Communication. Work places are webs of relationships. Relationships are possible through communication. Weave your Christian worldview into the normal communications of life. Don’t hide your light under a basket. Put it on the stand. Winsomely. Naturally. Joyfully. Let those who love their salvation say continually, Great is the Lord! (Psalm 40:16)

Love. Serve others. Be the one who volunteers first to go get the pizza. To drive the van. To organize the picnic. Take an interest in others at work. Be known as the one who cares not just about the light-hearted weekend tales, but the burdens of heavy and painful Monday mornings. Love your workmates, and point them to the great Burden Bearer.

Money. Work is where you make (and spend) money. It is all God’s, not yours. You are a trustee. Turn your earning into the overflow of generosity in how you steward God’s money. Don’t work to earn to have. Work to earn to have to give and to invest in Christ-exalting ventures. Make your money speak of Christ as your supreme Treasure.

Thanks. Always give thanks to God for life and health and work and Jesus. Be a thankful person at work. Don’t be among the complainers. Let your thankfulness to God overflow in a humble spirit of gratitude to others. Be known as the hope-filled, humble, thankful one at work.

There are more things to say about glorifying God in the workplace. But this is a start. Add to the list as God gives you light. The point is: Whatever you do, whether you eat or drink or work, do all to make God look as great as he really is.

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Recent posts from John Piper —

Thumb john piperJohn Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books.