There is an old story set in the Middle Ages during the construction of one of the great European cathedrals. A nobleman was walking among the workers, asking about their labors.
The stonemason explained the care involved in raising a plumb wall. The glass worker pointed out the details of a leaded glass window. The carpenter spoke about the wooden frame which provided the support for the whole building.
Finally, the nobleman spotted a peasant woman with a broom and a bucket cleaning up the trash. He asked her what she was doing. She replied, “I’m building a cathedral for the glory of God!”
This woman had a firm grasp on the biblical doctrine of work. How might we recapture this outlook in our own lives? Here are three implications of the biblical view of work for Christians today.
Rediscovering Our Primary Call to Follow Jesus
One implication of the biblical view of work is that we must rediscover that our primary call is to follow Jesus, and that this call encompasses the whole of our lives. This includes our everyday work.
Our call should lead us to a radically different lifestyle, seeking not to follow culture but influence it for the glory of God. If we live life in light of the two great commandments, to love God and neighbor, our lives will be nothing short of countercultural. Following Jesus wholeheartedly will have a transformational effect on all of life, including our vocational calling.
Every part of life – work, civics, family, recreation, church – is a living sacrifice to God (Rom. 12:1). We cannot confine our spiritual life to the weekend and conduct our business in the world with the same values and attitudes as everyone else. We must ask questions like:
If my work is important to God, how should I be conducting my business?
How should I be spending my money?
How should I live in my neighborhood and municipality?
How should I be acting and living in this area of my life?
The answers to these questions will help us successfully live out the implications of the biblical view of work for our lives.
Understanding Our Mission
Another implication of the biblical view of work is that we must understand the mission we have been called to carry out in this world. If we were created to work, what should our work look like?
There is a tension in the scriptures regarding work. For the Christian, life without work is meaningless, but work must never become the meaning of one’s life. Our identity is in Christ, not our work. Our union with him transforms our hearts and gives us the desire to serve him out of gratitude while we engage the world through our work.
Realizing the Purpose of Our Work
The final implication of the biblical view of work that I’ll cover in this post is that we must realize the purpose of our work is to have an impact on our culture. A prominent metaphor in the Bible is the bringing of light into a dark world (Matt. 5:16; John 1:5). When light is brought into a dark room, the room is transformed. The light of the gospel has the power to transform individual people and their culture as a whole.
When Christians do their jobs with excellence and with accountability, in a distinctively Christian manner, they cannot help but have a profound effect on the world around them. This is the end result of these three implications of the biblical view of work for Christians today.