Order and Life: Work as Worship in Practice

God made us to work. If you’re a Christian professional, chances are you’ve heard the phrase. Maybe from a pastor, a conference speaker, or someone in the office. But when it comes right down to the first minutes of our morning on Monday, the abstract does us little good. How do we take the idea of work as worship and make it a reality? The work as worship idea says that the five days (or more) we spend each week at work give us the opportunity to expand God’s kingdom. We can use the talents and skills God has given us to worship Him on more than just Sunday. It’s a compelling message—but what does that look like lived out?

 

 

Work as Worship: In Practice

Alfonso didn’t have a lot in the way of business opportunity. But when his church was willing to offer him the initial rent payment on a mechanic’s shop, Alfonzo wasted no time in using his business to honor God.

Every morning he climbs to the roof of the building and prays over his shop, his customers, and his young mechanics. Alfonso knows what it’s like to struggle, and he brings that empathy to his customers—many of whom struggle themselves. The young men who work for him came to his shop out of desperation with no money to fix their own vehicles. Some were recovering drug addicts like Alfonso himself.

He took them under his wing, taught them how to build an engine, and gave them a steady income. But more than that, he gave them life and safety from the chaos of their circumstances.

Whether he knows it or not, Alfonso’s doing more than working as if to God. He’s living as God designed Adam to live—to bring order and life to the world.

 

Work as Worship: In the Bible

In the opening pages of the Bible, God sets out to make a world filled with order and life. He draws boundaries around the darkness, the seas, and the land. He fills every inch of space with some kind of life—from the monsters lurking at the bottom of the ocean to the falcons that fly nearly to space.

It shouldn’t come as any surprise, then, that when God created humanity in His image, He gave us the same job—to bring order to the wild planet and fill it with life. It’s easy to read Genesis chapter 1 and gloss over God’s mandate for humanity—first to subdue the untamed earth and then to fill it with life.

Whether we realize it or not, we may already be using our work as worship—our jobs create opportunities for others to live. They bring order out of chaos. But more than that, in the everyday course of life, we have the opportunity to look customers or coworkers in the eye and help them find peace in the midst of chaos. When Alfonso showed kindness to the struggling young men who walked into his shop, he offered not only an opportunity for a new life but also safety.

As we work faithfully each day, the very things we do fulfill that first mandate God gave the human race. And that very act is worship.

In the second chapter of Genesis, God puts the first human in a garden—a place of order and life in the midst of the wild world. God gives Adam a job—to work and keep the garden. We’ll often stop to note that work existed before sin corrupted everything. But if we move on too quickly, we’ll miss something even more profound. The two Hebrew words there (avad and shamar) only ever appear together in one other context in the Old Testament—the worship in the Temple.

Like Adam, God entrusted the priests and the Levites with the task of working and keeping the Temple. For the original audience of Genesis who would have already been familiar with the responsibilities of the priests, the idea that Adam was the original priest in the garden wouldn’t have come as a surprise.

But to us who may see work as a necessary evil, we typically don’t make the connection: when we live as God intended—bringing life and order to this world—we are worshipping.

 

Work as Worship: In Our Midst

The people around us float in a sea of hopelessness. Each day we show up at work, we have the opportunity to bring order and life to someone. We don’t have to be a police officer to bring order, or a doctor to bring life. Something as mundane as making sure accounting records are done with integrity and accuracy could be the difference between secure, life-giving jobs and cataclysmic chaos for dozens or hundreds of people.

But our work as worship doesn’t stop with life and order. When Jesus commissioned His followers before returning to His Father, He refocused that ancient mandate to work and keep. As Jesus’s disciples, we offer new life by proclaiming the gospel and making disciples. And we bring order out of chaos by teaching those new disciples to obey Jesus’s commands.

So, what does it look like practically for our work to be worship? When we do our work each day, we’re showing employees, customers, and coworkers around the kingdom of God—a place of order and life. And as followers of Jesus, we have the additional opportunity to introduce people to the King—the only one who can give them unending life.


About The Author

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