How can service or being a servant be freedom?
This is the question my colleague Art Lindsley asks in his booklet, Free Indeed: Living Life in Light of the Biblical View of Freedom. He writes,
In Christ, we are freed from bondage in order to say ‘Thy will be done.’ We were headed down a road away from God and have been turned around 180 degrees by God’s grace so that we are now pursuing our Lord rather than running away from him. We were serving sin, but now we are serving Christ.
This freedom we have as Christians to become a servant of Christ is truly counter-cultural. Being a Christian gives you freedom in your work that radically differs from those around you.
But what does this freedom at work really look like?
This question and many others are well-answered in Sebastian Traeger’s book The Gospel at Work: How Working for King Jesus Gives Meaning and Purpose to Our Jobs, coauthored with Greg Gilbert.
In the third chapter, “The Gospel in the Workplace,” Traeger and Gilbert list six reasons why our identity as Christians gives us great freedom in the workplace.
1. Working for Jesus Gives You the Freedom to Worship God through Your Work
Traeger and Gilbert ask, “What does worship in the workplace look like?” Their answer:
To worship is to give God the honor he deserves. This means obeying God in every task you perform, knowing that when you do that task with all your heart, you are pleasing God.
They further explain that our workplaces are arenas for learning more about God, seeing his work, and enjoying his presence in our jobs. All these things are acts of worship we can perform through our work.
2. Working for Jesus Gives You the Freedom to Serve Others Wholeheartedly
God first loved us, freeing us to go and love others, including our coworkers:
But everything you think you need that appreciation and respect for…is already yours in Jesus. You are freed from having your identity tied to what people think about you. You are free to serve them without an agenda.
3. Working for Jesus Gives You the Freedom to Trust God in Your Work
Our work presents an opportunity to trust God in the midst of stressful circumstances. As Traeger and Gilbert comment, “We trust him [God] with our future because he has already secured it for eternity.”
4. Working for Jesus Gives You the Freedom to Rest from Your Work
It’s easy to think the fate of the world (or even just our office) rests on our shoulders. Yet in reality, everything is ultimately dependent on God. Resting reminds us of this fact. It also allows us to enjoy the work of our hands.
5. Working for Jesus Gives You the Freedom to Do Your Work Well
Traeger and Gilbert sum up this point, saying,
If you are doing your work for Jesus, you are free from the unsatisfying allure of the carrot and the painful whack of the stick.
We are motivated to do our best at work because of all Jesus has done for us.
6. Working for Jesus Gives You the Freedom to Have Joy in Your Work
Sometimes work seems meaningless, but your relationship with Jesus changes that. He notices the work you do, which gives it lasting significance.
This important chapter ends with the idea that we should work ethically, honor our superiors, and take satisfaction in a job well done.
As Christians who have been redeemed by grace, everything in our lives should be different—including our work.
Summing up these points, Traeger and Gilbert write,
You are free. Free from the need to secure self-worth through performance. Free from the fear you will lose what is most precious to you if things don’t go well. Free from the mad dash to work, work, work without any rest—as if the world depended on your effort. Free to work before the King with joy, even if it’s not the work you would have chosen for yourself. Free to serve others as you worship the King. It really is true. Working for Jesus changes…everything.
Do you feel Christ’s freedom at work?