This is part one of a two-part post written by John Jensen. Read part two here.
The word worship means to prostrate oneself. Laying face down on the ground on the construction site… well, that would be difficult. But what I have come to understand worship to be, is not always the physical act of prostrating oneself, but rather the bowing down to, or acknowledging of God’s rule. Many find the singing of songs, with lyrics about God’s Lordship to be helpful in this, but I generally don’t. For me, it is the day in, day out struggling, to give myself over to God’s leadership in my life. This becomes especially difficult in the situations where God’s kingdom rule is in direct opposition to the culture of today. For me, there aren’t many places in our lives where this is more apparent than in our places of employment.
So what does it mean to worship God in our work? There are three key aspects that comprise my answer to this question: Good work, Godly work, and Aware work.
Right in the beginning of our creation narrative we slam into an interesting thought about our relationship with work. When Adam and Eve decide to follow their own path, they unbalance all of creation. And God tells Adam that the ground will not yield its fruit easily, that he will with much toil and sweat fight with the ground to bring about his sustenance. Our adversarial relationship with work is a result of our adversarial relationship with God, and God’s good creation. Our toil and hardship is part of what is often called the curse.
But ours is a narrative of liberation. From start to finish, the scriptures are stories of liberation from oppression. And this liberation has its ultimate climax in the person and work of Jesus the Christ. Jesus, through His death and resurrection, begins the work that liberates us from the curse of sin and death. Including the beginning of our adversarial relationship with work. And Christ teaches us about the now, and not yet, rule of God, in which we begin to live in the liberation of all things here and now, as our proper expectation and hope of the future, complete redemption of God.
In simpler terms… we live as if we are in heaven now, practicing our faith in heaven’s ultimate victory.
So what does this have to do with worship? And work?
In my mind, quite a bit. I am sure you have heard many cliches that express our relationship with work. If you enjoyed it, it wouldn’t be called work. Or, Do something you enjoy and you will never work a day in your life. etc. Well, this is not living in worship. Worship says that God is God of all of our lives. And that we submit ourselves to God’s rule in all of our lives, including work. If our God is expressed in fullness in the person and work of Jesus Christ, then we are to walk in the liberation from the curse, not under it. Which means worship should mean “good work.”
Now at the risk of alienating people, I would suggest that trading large chunks of your life, energy, talent and creativity, for money and security only, is not good work. It is, in a sense, wage slavery, and is living under the adversarial relationship with work. This is the curse. What I am suggesting is that we choose work that feeds ours souls, even if it means we are less secure and less financially prosperous. I know, this is much easier said than done.
Our work should be done as worship, which means walking in the redemption of Jesus, not under the burden of sin. Our work should come from our heart, we should have a love for what we do, and it should express who we are. Even if it means quitting our “normal” jobs. During my life I have lived this out by following my heart into a number of trades, most of them around building things. The satisfaction of creating something where there was nothing, of using my hands, of feeling physically tired or even exhausted at the end of the day, is “good work” for me. It is where worship meets work.
Read part two tomorrow, in which John continues with Godly work and Aware work.
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John Jensen is just a normal, average, post-evangelical christianarchist who has been planting organic communities of faith with his wife Raquel and his daughters Ade and Cheyenne for twenty years. You can leer at his lunacy at johnthereverend.com. And, follow him on Twitter @rev3j.