At Work & Theology 101

What to Do When Jesus Christ Feels absent from Your Work

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Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.

– Matthew 28:19-20

What should our response be when we don’t feel like Jesus Christ is present in our work? Many tasks feel wholly separate from Christ’s great commission in our lives. Our jobs often feel mundane or lacking in holy purpose.

Reflecting on the following biblical truths can help.

Your Work Connects to the Great Commission

In the great commission, Christ promised to always be with us. Christ is with us whether we feel his presence or not. It’s often hard to see the connection between our work and Christ’s work in the great commission, but they’re connected.

In doing your work, you’re partaking in the cultural mandate given to Adam and Eve in Genesis 1:28. Many theologians have argued that the great commission is a restatement of the cultural mandate.

Hugh Whelchel explains this connection in his book How Then Should We Work? In the section detailing the cultural mandate he writes,

God commanded Adam and Eve to be fruitful, to multiply, to fill the earth, and to subdue it for God’s glory. Jesus, the second Adam, has taken up that task…Jesus’s bride is the church. Together with his bride, Jesus is fulfilling the original mandate by filling the earth with regenerated images of God, who in turn submit to God’s rule and subdue the earth for his glory…To state it a little differently, the cultural mandate, which God gave to the first Adam and his bride, has now become the great commission, which God has given to Christ.

Because we are saved by Christ, it’s now possible for us to “submit to God’s rule and subdue the earth for his glory” through our work. Evangelism is still important apart from our everyday work, but our work is just as much a part of God’s purposes.

We may not always feel it, but our work carrying out the cultural mandate is connected to Christ’s work through the great commission.

Not Every Trade Is Blessed

There are indeed jobs where Christ is not present in the sense of blessing the work or having ordained it. The trades of assassins, sex trafficking, or prostitution, for instance, are not in line with how God wants us to use our skills and our bodies.

Clearly there is a market in each of those trades, yet the existence of a market does not make it moral. Jesus himself overturned the tables of those selling sacrificial animals at the temple. There are markets where our sinful nature has overridden and perverted the created intent.

Cultivate a Relationship with Christ

We can rekindle a connection with Christ.

Often in my own life I recognize I don’t feel Christ’s presence because I haven’t taken time to cultivate my relationship with him. I haven’t prayed, spent time reading the Bible, or built consistent community with those who are doing those things. I haven’t honestly and earnestly sought him out.

Like a relationship with another human being, we should not expect to feel close or connected with someone with whom we haven’t spent time. Additionally, we should ask God to give us ears, eyes, and a heart to sense his presence.

During our workday we may feel like the Psalmist in 10:1, asking “O Lord, why do you stand so far away?” Yet we can rest on his words and promises to us, even though we may not always feel like he is present in our work.

Do you feel Christ’s presence in your work?

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