Last time I addressed specifically the importance of living out our faith so that people will see demonstrated in us that which we say we believe. Several years ago I explored this idea as it pertains to Christians in the workplace. I had seen, as you no doubt have, an abundance of material in bookstores, online, at conferences and in graduate programs about what it takes to be a good and effective leader. Even within the Christian world, however, I was finding very little about what it means to be a good employee. While we are all called to be leaders (I like to say “if you’re breathing, you’re leading”) we are not all called to serve in formal leadership positions. Nevertheless, we all have responsibilities to do our best within whatever capacity we may serve. As a result of my studies and fleshing out some ideas that had been percolating in my mind I eventually developed a course entitled “UNTO THE LORD: The Roles and Responsibilities of the Christian Worker.” Through that course I (I hope) demonstrated what Christians are called to do no matter where they work or what they do because they are representing Christ. I hope someday to turn the course into a book, but that has not happened yet. I have been pleased to see that a few books related to this idea have emerged in the past few years, so perhaps others, too, are recognizing this often-forgotten area of the Christian life.
R.C. Sproul, Jr. addresses this idea in his “Seek Ye First” column in the September 2014 issue of Tabletalk. His column is titled “The World and All” and in it he points out that Christians are all too often guilty of separating the kingdom of God from the everyday activities of our lives. He explains that when Jesus told Pilate that His kingdom is not of this world, He was not suggesting that our Christianity is to be limited to what I will call church world. “It is true that Jesus distinguished His kingdom from the kingdoms of this world,” Sproul writes. “The difference, however, is not dimensional or geographic. Rather, the difference is in terms of our weaponry. What sets apart the kingdom of God is that the soldiers of the King do not fight with swords and spears.” In other words, Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world only insofar as He was not planning to lead a rebellion against the Roman government (much to the dismay of Judas and others) and He is not calling us to use bullets or bombs to overthrow the United States government. But He is calling us to be about the business of His kingdom every day and in everything that we do.
Sproul goes on to write this…
When we forget the glorious truth that Jesus’ kingdom is everywhere, that all authority in heaven and on earth has been given unto Him, we end up dividing His realm. We think the real kingdom is where the church is, where it is doing ‘churchy’ things. When we are praying, when we are giving and receiving the sacraments, when we are preaching or hearing sermons, then we have entered into His kingdom. When, however, we are making widgets, buying groceries, or coaching Little League, then we have left the safety of the kingdom and have ventured into the world.
The truth is, of course, that His reign is universal. We do not move into and out of His kingdom so much as we vacillate between recognizing it and failing to recognize it, manifesting it or failing to manifest it. When we leave the church, and enter into that which is para–alongside–the church, we are not crossing some kind of border, entering into Pilate’s realm. Because we are still within the kingdom of our Lord, we are still to be about our Lord’s business. We are to do all that we do as unto Him.
In other words, regardless of where we live or what we do, every believer is called to full-time Christian ministry. We may not work for a Christian company or be paid by a mission board. We may not carry a Bible to work or be employed someplace where meetings start and/or end with prayer. Yet we all are called to do everything we do for God. That means whether we are stitching a wound, filling out tax forms, collecting garbage, mopping a floor, remodeling a house, selling a pair of jeans, fixing or serving food, investing money or answering phones we are just as much within the kingdom of God and called to live out our faith as if we were pastors, Christian school teachers or missionaries. Sproul writes, “The plumber, then, if he serves our Lord, is a parachurch worker. he is most assuredly in ministry. And make no mistake about it: there is a Christian way to do plumbing.”
This is a crucial lesson for all of us to learn. It is one that I strive diligently to communicate to the students at the school where I serve…they do not have to go to a Christian college or work in a church in order to live out their faith. We strive to show our students how biblical principles are connected to and relevant to every area of study, every occupation and every life choice. I am in a setting where I am privileged to have both that opportunity and responsibility. But it is not one that should be unique to me or those of us in Christian education. Every Christian should seek to apply the teachings of Scripture in their every day lives. Every Christian parent should seek to teach their children that the Bible is not just for Sundays, but is relevant and applicable every day and in every setting.
Paul says in I Corinthians 10:31, “…whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” He says again, in Colossians 3:23, “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.” Whatever you do is all encompassing; it excludes nothing. Wherever you are and whatever you do…live it out.