Working For the Lord
“To lift up the hands in prayer gives God glory, but a man with a dung fork in his hand, a woman with a slop pail, gives him glory too. He is so great that all things give him glory if you mean they should.”
- Gerard Manley Hopkins (d. 1889), “On the Principle or Foundation”
This week, I spent some time with an 81-year-old member of Calvary who regaled me with tales of his years as steel worker working on the Sears Tower and the Chicago Skyway. I’ve also listened avidly to the stories one of our retired members tells about captaining a freighter on the Great Lakes and those of the several pilots who spend every Sunday they’re not flying worshipping here. I love learning about the various careers of the people in our church. There are farmers and teachers, table servers and professors, consultants and salespersons, builders and landscapers, builders and medical professionals. I think listening to people talk about their work is so interesting!
However, if there is one thing I’ve noticed, it’s that no one has a glamorous job. I got to know one of Calvary’s members a few years ago who is in the Secret Service. I thought that was the coolest job ever…until he explained what he did every day. It’s still cool, but it’s not quite as Jason Bourne-esque cool as I thought. The fact is that none of us have glamorous jobs. We are servants, and Christ is the One we work for. That’s the crux of the exposition this week.
Dorothy Sayers wrote a must-read essay, “Why Work?,” that is included in her book, Letters to a Diminished Church. She observes
“[Work] should be looked upon—not as a necessary drudgery to be undergone for the purpose of making money, but as a way of life in which the nature of man should find its proper exercise and delight and so fulfill itself to the glory of God.”
We were made to work. In our work, we serve others, which ultimately serves Christ and brings glory to Him. The pilot is serving passengers. The stay-at-home mom is serving her family. The carpenter is serving people who need cozy homes. The engineer serves us by designing bridges that work and roads that get us safely to our destination. A paycheck is not our primary cause for working; our primary reason for working is to serve and make the world a better place for those we serve.
This week, I’m delving into Colossian 3:22-4:1, which is part of the “household code,” a name given to Colossians 3:18-4:1 because these verses deal specifically with how members of a household deal with one another. Of course, a great deal of scholarly ink has been spilled over the issue of slavery in the first century. We won’t be getting into that interesting (and complex) topic this week, but biblical commentators have pointed out that while our social structures have changed over the years, the principles in this text can be properly applied to anyone who works for someone else. If you work for someone, you are a servant, and first and foremost, you are servant of Christ!