What’s So Important About Faith and Work?

In American society, most of us spend more of our waking hours at our jobs than in any other activity. While that may or may not be a positive commentary on our culture, it's a fact that's got to be considered by churches and ministries seeking to equip Christians to live faithfully. Yet, in our work cultures today, most of us have been trained to separate our faith lives from our work lives. The chasm between the two worlds disturbs us, signaling that something is wrong. And this comes at a time when the single most common demographic among people in the church is work, and at a time when the culture of that workplace is most foreign to our faith.   For years we've lived with the belief that the real work of God's kingdom was done by missionaries and members of the clergy. Others work to make money to support the "real work."   Yet, Scripture insists that our work is good. The ancient Greeks thought of work as a curse; Christianity gave meaning to work. Work, for the Christian, is a calling.   After all, Jesus grew up with the callused hands of a carpenter and the very fact that he worked gives dignity to our work.   The Reformation, as I wrote with Jack Eckerd in Why America Doesn't Work, "struck at society's dualistic view of work. Just as they saw the church comprised of all the people of God, not just the clergy, so the Reformers saw all work -- sacred and secular, intellectual and manual -- as a way of serving God."   Work embraced as a calling expresses the glory of God, and it's part of -- very literally -- following Jesus. Through our work God provides for us and for our families, contributes to the common good, and also gives us a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction. He has given us work as the way to fulfill his mandate to us as humans -- to take dominion over the world he has created. As we work, we extend God's reign and influence as his agents or stewards.   And the way that we take that dominion, confronting the challenges and difficulties that "go with the job," is, in itself, our witness to the reality of God and our faith in Christ. Excellence in our calling, which the Bible calls for, makes the most powerful witness for us in the workplace.   Sure, we could wait for those who are seekers and skeptics to come into our church buildings, but the vast majority never will. We could wait for them to seek out a pastor, but most don't know any. Now more than ever the "indigenous believers," those Christians already in the mission fields of accounting, sales, software, construction, and other honorable vocations, need to be equipped to work with integrity and thus share their faith in actions as well as words.   Believers and non-believers have questions about the meaning and value of work. My friend Ken Kusel and Marketplace Network can help. Call us here at BreakPoint for more information about Marketplace Network and their programs applying a Christian worldview to work and the workplace.   There are those who believe that work is in the midst of a series of cultural changes so large and far- reaching that we are in the middle of another major industrial revolution. Even if that's an overstatement -- and I'm not sure it is -- Christians must seize this opportunity to take the lead in bringing God's truth to bear on work.       For more information: Charles Colson, "How Now Shall We Work?", October 2001.   Charles Colson and Jack Eckerd, Why America Doesn't Work (Word Publishing, 1991).   Learn more about Marketplace Network.


Chuck Colson


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