What Makes Work Christian?
Now, J D Greear at 9Marks has produced another very helpful piece, with a number of helpful anecdotes and examples sprinkled through it (including one or two quite amusing ones). For those of us who have “secular” jobs, and those of us who, like me, are going to be teaching on this subject in a church context soon, it is well worth a read.
Perhaps you remember the 2004 incident of an American Airlines pilot who, in his pre-flight announcements, asked all the Christians on board the plane to raise their hands. He then suggested that during the flight the other passengers talk to those people about their faith. He also told passengers he’d also be happy to talk to anyone who had questions. Understandably, it freaked a lot of people out: the pilot of your airplane talking to you about whether or not you’re ready to meet Jesus? While they might admire the guy’s zeal, many Christian businesspeople think, “I just don’t think I could do that and keep my job.”
Many Christians think that you just can’t serve the kingdom of God at work, and that kingdom work happens “after hours”—volunteering at the church nursery, attending small group, going on a mission trip, serving at the soup kitchen. Our work is a necessity that must be endured to put bread on the table. God’s interest in the fruit of our labors is primarily that we tithe off of it.
The Bible offers quite a different perspective. Scripture teaches us how to serve God through our work, not just after work. The Bible speaks clear and radical words to people in the workplace, showing us that even the most menial of jobs has an essential role in the mission of God.
In fact, it is surely not coincidental that most of the parables that Jesus told had a workplace context, and that of the forty miracles recorded in the book of Acts, thirty-nine of them occurred outside of a church setting. The God of the Bible seems as concerned with displaying his power outside the walls of the church as he does within it.
I want to suggest five qualities that make work “Christian.” By “Christian” in this context I mean “done through faith in Jesus Christ.” Therefore, work that is Christian will have five qualities: (1) creation-fulfilling, (2) excellence-pursuing, (3) holiness-reflecting, (4) redemption-displaying, and (5) mission-advancing.
He then unpacks all five in more detail. It’s well worth a look.
Andrew is now on Twitter as @AJWTheology