On Saturdays, I’m going to start writing my thoughts on sermons I hear. Today’s entry was inspired by Craig Pierce’s sermon given at Irving Bible Church titled “The Value of Our Work.”
“Well, I’m thinking this might be the perfect time to do something for God.”
That’s how the conversation started. A guy rolled in to talk about what his options might be since he’d found himself unemployed as of that morning. I asked him what he meant by “something big for God.”
“I know IBC is a big part of digging wells in Africa. I could see myself doing that. Or maybe working in India with poor people. Stuff like that. Anything with missions or church work. I’m ready to go, man.”
My thoughts went back to my life almost a year ago. I was in just the opposite place. In over 25 years of ministry, I’d seen all the big ones: financial mismanagement, sexual sin, extreme legalism, blatant hypocrisy. All from Christian leaders. I wasn’t so sure that I wanted to keep doing “big things for God.” I wanted to do small things for God. Namely, I wanted to work a “normal job” and it seemed like running a bar might be just the thing to blend into the rest of humanity. It sounded SO great.
Funny how we were both making the same fundamental mistake. Did you catch it?
See, he was looking to “do something big for God” by going into full-time church work. I was looking to “get a real-world job” by leaving professional Christianity and open my own business. See it yet?
Well, Craig Pierce highlighted it in the first sermon in the series on “work.” He’d pointed out that so much of our culture divides the world into “sacred” and “secular.” You know…that we have our church world and our normal world…and that plays out in all sorts of ways. You know, in addition to those subtle nods where Christian is used as an adjective before bookstore/tv/movies/music/clothes/etc., and then regular bookstores/tv/movies/clothes/etc., we divide our lives into Monday/Tuesday-Thursday/Saturday and then have our Sunday/Wednesday lives.
The guy coming into my office to chat did that.
I admit that I’d done that very thing, too.
The only difference was that he was running towards the “sacred” while I was running toward the “secular.” He thought digging wells in Africa would be doing something big for God. I thought pulling on a beer tap was somehow giving me a break from serving Him.
Like I said before, that was a year ago. In the time since then I’ve been reminded time and time again that there is no division between the secular and the sacred. It’s all the spiritual life or none of it is. And thankfully, I was able to teach that again to my new friend. That there was nobility in work…that God provides work for us that aligns with where He wants us to be in His design at any given point in history.
Just so happens that He showed me that He still wanted me to be a pastor. That’s how He built me. He built the guy I was talking to as a gifted salesman. He’d made good money and was able to pay his bills and support his kids. But, yet, he thought that going into full-time Christian work was the way to do “big things for God.”
Which is why I appreciated this quote from Craig during the sermon:
“It’s a lot less about bringing people at your work to Christ, and a lot more about bringing Christ to the people at your work.”
We’re all capable of falling into the trap of making a divide between the “secular” and “sacred.” I’m glad that I’d walked through it in my past so I could share it with someone who needed to see his future occupation from that perspective. I mean, he could wind up on the mission field for all I know. I might could wind up pulling on a beer tap in the future. But hopefully, we’ll both be doing those things for Kingdom purposes because that’s where He puts us at that time. Because we both view work the right way.
I’ll leave you with Craig’s closing challenge:
What would you have to change if tomorrow you decided that your work really does matter in the grand Kingdom sense of things? That you’ve been given an opportunity to join hands with Christ Himself in carrying out the responsibility of work. Of bringing value to your little sphere of influence. What if you went tomorrow with this one goal: By the time my work day is over, this place will be better because I’ve been here. That work will have been done with greater excellence, people will have been treated with more dignity, and I will have contributed to the work of God in this world by bringing light into dark places.”
So, in what ways do you divide life into “secular” and “sacred?” How would your life be different if you responded to Craig’s challenge?