A Theology of Work (workLife series #1)
Jason White



Did you know the average person spends 90,000 hours of their life working??? That’s a lot of time to spend in our lives working at a job or in a career! How do we approach our work as Christians? Is it something we do just to pay the bills? Do we work for the weekend? Is the goal to be able to retire? Or is it something more?






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We are starting a brand new message series today. And it's all on work. And I don't think I would get much disagreement or argument from anyone in here. When I say that we spend a good majority of our lives working. Amen. I mean, according to some statistics and research, they say that the average person will work around 90,000 hours throughout their lifetime, 90,000 hours that we will spend working, that's a lot of hours to put in. But I bet it's even more than that, quite honestly. Because I think when they're talking about these kinds of things, and measuring these kinds of things, we're talking about, like clocking in and clocking out and guesstimating, kind of an average hour of work days that we spend. But we all know that we spend a lot more time working, especially today than just whatever our normal eight or nine to five job really is, right? I mean, first of all, there's the whole getting ready for work that you have to go through to get there. Some of us still have a commute, and you have to drive there and drive back. And if you factor that time in and I mean, that's time getting to work to do the job. And these 90,000 hours we're talking about, most of us have a smartphone today, and it goes off and tells us when work is trying to get a hold of us. And they don't care if it's outside of business hours, that little Dean goes off anytime, right? And so whenever that happens, we pull it out. And we notice something that's going and what do we do? When we start to work, right? I mean, it may be seven or eight o'clock at night, it may be dinnertime, and we're pulling it out, and we're doing our work on our phones or our computer or during family time. I mean, it can become an all consuming thing. So I bet it's even more than 90,000 hours that we spend throughout our lifetime working. And with that being one of those things that consumed so much of our times and so much investment from us, a lot of us have a lot of different feelings associated with work, we have a lot of different thoughts about work, some of us love our jobs, some of us hate our jobs, some of us feel like we just kind of do a job to get a paycheck, or we're in a job to be able to get to the weekends, right, where we got to grind it out to be able to get to the weekend where the real life happens, right. And ultimately, with that kind of philosophy, we're grinding it out, and maybe even saving along the way so that one day, we can finally get to the real point where what life really begins, I can stop working now. And I can do everything else. And so we just kind of view it where man, I just got to stick with it, I just got to grind it out. It's just a necessary evil, I got to pay the bills, I got to do something to provide for me and my family. But hopefully one day, I can put all that work stuff behind me. And we can start to have some real fun and really enjoy life. And while we're grinding it out and doing all that stuff and working at it, there's there's pressure to perform to be able to to keep the job, there's anxiety that's associated with it. We're working so much and sometimes neglecting family time. And we feel the shame and the guilt from some of those things. But then it never really seems to stop because we've got to keep it going because we got to provide for them, even though we want to spend time with them, we still got to do this kind of thing. And for a lot of us it can just take over our lives, some of us have a hard time ever shutting it off. You ever lay down in your bed and all of a sudden your mind is just racing and thinking about all the things you still have to do at work and you can't even fall asleep or you wake up in the middle of the night thinking about work. And there's anxiety associated with that some of us are losing sleep over work. Some of us have medical issues and problems that work has caused and the tension and anxiety that comes with it. And so since it consumed so much of us and can take up so much of our lives and cause all of these other things that we've just described. I want to spend the next several weeks talking about it. I want to talk about our work. Now some of you are going yeah, I want to hear about that. Because it is one of those things that I deal with all of the time. And so let's talk about it, some of your leg going really like I work all week and I come to church to not think about and talk about work and you're not really excited about jumping into this for the next several weeks. And then I feel like there's probably even some of you who are going, Jason, this is church, right? I mean, this is the time I come on Sundays, to talk about spiritual things. We want to talk about missions and ministry and how to read my Bible and how to pray and how to walk with Jesus. Why in the world Are we going to be talking about all this secular stuff? Well, my goal today as we kick off this series is to show you that there's really not so much of a disconnect between spiritual things, and work. Some of us have this idea in our head that again, there are things that are spiritual. And those are the things like listening maybe to a sermon, or singing worship songs and reading our Bible and praying and being involved in ministry and missions. And then there are things that are not spiritual, like work among a number of other things. But my goal today, again, as we kick this off, is to show you that there's really not so much of a disconnect or a divide at all, but they're very much intertwined together, and were designed by God to actually be that way, even from the very beginning. That's why I asked you to turn to Genesis, the first few chapters of your Bible. Look what it says right there. In Genesis chapter one, beginning of verse 26. says, Then God said, Let us make mankind in our own image, in our own likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea, and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals and over all the creek creatures that move along the ground. So God created mankind in his own image. And in the image of God, He created them male and female, He created them, God bless them and said to them, Be fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth and subdue it, underline that rule over underline that to the fish in the sea, and the birds in the sky. and over every living creature that moves on the ground. The first thing that we need to notice about this is that God created humanity, to rule into reign over creation, and to have dominion over it to bring the things that he had just created. under control. He says to subdue it, I had you underline that if you have your own Bible, or you can highlight it in your your Bible app to subdue means to subjugate or to bring it under control. He says, to rule over it, that means to have dominion over. So So think about what God is saying here. I mean, what just happened? He had just described how he had created everything, from what, nothing, he took nothing. And He created everything, including humanity. And then he says to humanity, to rule and reign over everything it is that he's just creating. This is what I've created you for to rule over what I just created to bring it under control. Now I can imagine Adam and Eve and they're going okay, we got to rule over creation of dominion over want to bring it under control, look at all, how are we gonna do that? God? How do we rule and reign over it? How do we have dominion over it? Well, God actually tells us, he tells us how he planned on them and us doing that. Later on. When we get into chapter two, we get a little bit more of an in depth glimpse as to what God was doing in creation. He talks a lot about the garden he had created and all this stuff they are and how he put man in it. And look what he says in Genesis chapter two, verse 15, it says, The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden, to work it and take care of it. God says you are going to bring it under control and have dominion over it through work. God created humanity to work. Look at whoever's sitting next to you and say, God created you to work. Good. Some of you, I feel like got maybe a little too personal in that hat, right? You need a job. But this is what we see in the very beginning. Notice this is before the fall, some of us think about work as being an evil thing. It's just kind of there's so much stuff and negative stuff associated with it. But this is before what entered the world. This is before sin ever enter the world as part of God's original design. He created humanity to work. Now, there's a couple of really interesting things about this word that's translated work in verse 15, in the original Hebrew, I mean, first of all, it does mean to prepare or cultivate, right? So he's, he's saying in some way that this work is going to add value into the things that I've created. I've created certain things, and I want you to cultivate it, to use it to grow things to To make things to produce things, to invent things, you're going to take the stuff that I've just created, and you're going to move it further along. So he does say that we were created to cultivate and make and produce and invent, and all of these things and develop it further. But here's the other really interesting thing about this word in Hebrew, this word work, in Hebrew shares the same root word for worship, shares the same root word for worship. So I think what we see here is not only is he saying that he put them in the Garden of Eden, to work and to cultivate, but through the work and the cultivation of what it is that they would be doing. It would bring glory and honor to their Creator, who created them to be able to do such a thing. It was an act of worship, you will worship me, God says, As you work, which says this, worship is not just singing, worship is not just listening to a message, worship is not just going on a mission trip, worship is not just doing the work in the church, or all of those things that we see us were sent out in dive into missions, and that kind of stuff. Work is also an expression of worship. This was God's original design to look at it another way, when again, you think about what God was doing. In the beginning, we talked about how Genesis one was all about him creating, right and that's all about and taking nothing in him making everything. So he would, he would make something and then he would he would invent something, and he would, he would use it and say, Well, I think this should maybe be put right there, I'm gonna, I'm gonna kind of mold this a little bit more, and I'm gonna make it look like this, or these things are going to be this way. And this thing is going to do that I'm gonna put that in that spot here. I'm going to do this here. He was creating, he was in venting, he was shaping things within this world that he was creating, and that we would live in. In other words, that sounds a lot like work. And the reason it sounds like work is because we're told that's what God was doing in Genesis two, two, it says, By the seventh day, God had finished the work that he had been doing. And so on the seventh day, he rested from all his what? Work in other words, God is a worker, God Himself, the God of the universe is a worker. And so follow me here. If God is a worker, and we're told in Genesis that we're made in His image, then when we work, if God is a worker who creates an advance and shapes things that were made in His image, then when we work, it is a reflection of him as our Creator, our work speaks of him in some way, it shows him off in some way, it brings him glory, in some way, I want you to see is the first thing I'm really just trying to drive across is that our work is meant to number one, we're created to work. And it's meant to add value and do something in the world that God created. But number two, it was meant to be an expression of worship to Him. So these are the first couple of things that I want you to see. Now. Before we get on, I know that some of you some of you've heard this before some of your tracking, and you're like, Yeah, I get it. I've seen it. I know, this isn't Jason, you're not just giving us your opinion. You're you're bringing out God's Word in this. And you're showing us from His word and that way, but some of you are like, just having a hard time with it. Right? I mean, because again, the spiritual things, the real worship is what we just did what we're doing right now, are you trying to really tell me that the work that I enter into as a plumber, or a construction worker, or as a logger, or a teacher, or a garbage man, or whatever it is that I do that that that is actually worship? That's not on the same level as you guys who are pastors or missionaries and who are really called to do the work of the Lord. There's a difference there. And I think sometimes we even reinforce that in the church, unfortunately, because sometimes we have even special services for people who are called into the work of ministry. We have ordination services, if you're called into the work of ministry, we have commissioning services, if you're called to be a missionary, and we celebrate those things, and we highlight all of those things. And then there's the work that everybody else just does. We don't have special ceremonies and special things for for That which goes okay, well, in my mind, even in the church, as we do these things, there's real work that worships God. And then there's just work. This is the idea that I kind of had in my head from the church and from growing up, and even as I was graduating from school and, and looking for the way I was going to spend my time working and to make money and provide for different things. And really, I felt like God was calling me into ministry, or was going to call me into ministry. As soon as I graduated from college, I had a business degree, but I really felt like God was wanting to steer me in the direction of ministry. And as soon as I graduated, my parents church was in between youth pastors, they were looking for someone to come in and be kind of an interim youth pastor for a few months, I applied for the job, I got it. I'm doing the work of ministry, I'm, I'm loving it, I'm involved. And I'm feeling like I'm, I'm worshiping God through the work that is that I'm doing fully anticipating that he's going to open up the door into full time ministry in this calling that he had on my life. And about halfway through the summer, I get a phone call from someone in my hometown, that said, Hey, your old high school tennis coach is leaving. And we want to know if you'd be interested in taking his spot. And I said, Man, I'm really humbled. Thank you for thinking of me. But I feel like God is calling me into ministry. And I hung up the phone, this was the attitude that I had was that there was some work that people were called into to worship God. And then there was other kinds of work that wasn't on that kind of level. And I was thinking that God was calling me into that kind of work. Want you to see something though? In Exodus chapter 35. In Exodus 35, and stay with me, and I know you're gonna be going, Why in the world are you reading all of this, but stay with me, and I think you'll see, this could really help in be enlightening to sin, verse 30, of chapter 35, were told, then Moses said to the Israelites, see, the Lord has chosen Bezaleel, son of URI, the son of her of the tribe of Judah, and he has filled him with the Spirit of God underline that with wisdom, with understanding with knowledge and with all kinds of skills to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver, and bronze, to cut and set stones to work and wood and to engage in all kinds of artistic crafts. And he has given both him and only a son of a Hispanic, of the tribe of Dan, the ability to teach others, he has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work as engravers as designers, embroider errs in blue, purple, and scarlet yarn, in fine linen, and weavers, and all of them skilled workers, and designers, here's what I want you to really see about this. This is the Old Testament, this is before the cross, this is before Jesus's resurrection, and His ascension in the giving of the Holy Spirit that don't dwell believers, from the moment that we put our faith and trust in him permanently. So there were special in dwellings of the Holy Spirit, God would say, I'm gonna use you, I've set you as I'm calling you out for this specific purpose or task. And there's a special indwelling of the Holy Spirit to be able to carry out that task. So this is what happens. He's given a task to them, he puts this call the Holy Spirit in them, calls them to be able to do this work. And it is not the work of a pastor or a missionary. He put the Spirit of God in them for the calling that he had on their life, to be what expert craftsmen? Do you see it? Do you see what I'm saying? The Spirit of God, he had to put in them to move them in a spiritual way to do physical manual labor as an act of worship towards him, a special calling that he had on their lives. In other words, I don't think that there's really any I don't mean to diminish the work that people are called to in ministry and as a pastor or as a missionary and those kinds of things. And I'm not saying we shouldn't do ordination services and any of those kinds of things. But I'm thinking maybe we should Ante up the level of things that we do for everyone else that is working as well on the same playing field because it is meant to all be an act of worship when I was telling you that I had hung up the phone. Or I had said no to them asking me if I would step into this coaching position. I kept thinking about it over and over and I couldn't get out of my head. I was like God, why? Why am I still thinking about this? I feel like you're calling me into the ministry to do real work in a church. Why am I still thinking about this one? I said, occupying my thoughts all the time and, and here's what I heard him just kind of whisper inside my thoughts in my heart was Jason, you feel like you've got this idea in your head, that ministry is just doing the work of a pastor in a church. But I want you to what I want you to do is ministry inside the school, Jason, I am calling you into this. God created us to work. He created that work to speak of him to be done in a way that brings worship and glory and honor to him. And we all have a calling on our life to the work that he's called us to do. Whether it's a pastor, a missionary, whether it's being a doctor, or a school teacher, or a construction worker, plumber, clean houses, your stay at home, mom or dad. All kinds of different callings, all kinds of different gifts, all kinds of different abilities, but channeled in a way that add value in this world, that worship Him through the way that he created you to play a role in his kingdom work here on this earth. And you've got a calling on your life in that particular way. Now, the next thing we need to talk about what I'm really hoping and trying to do today is just give you kind of a theology of work, if you will, to help you see work from a biblical perspective. And so we're tracking along that way. But what we need to really see now is how sin impacted this, right? Because a lot of the stuff that we were talking about was in the creation account. This was before Genesis three original design that God created us and all of these things. And then everything fell apart through sin. I mean, Genesis chapter 317, even tells us that after sin, enter the world, that God said this, Cursed is the ground because of you through painful toil, you will eat food from it all the days of your life, it will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field, by the sweat of your brow, you will eat your food until you return to the ground. Since from it you were taken For dust you are into dust you will return. So in other words, sin did not bring work into the world, right? I mean, again, some of us have bought into that idea. We saw that happen before chapter three here, God created it, He created us to do it, it is good. But since certainly would impact the work that God has called us to do. It would make it more difficult, it would get hard. And I think we would all agree with that. When we enter into work, we feel the difficult parts of it. There's times we love it times we're enjoying it times. It's easy times it's hard, hard to meet a deadline. Sometimes it's hard to be creative. Sometimes it's hard to grind out the physical work that we're called to. Sometimes sin messed everything up in the world. Now, it would be easy for us to think, Okay, if God created this as a part of our original design, but then sin came into the world in messed everything up. And now we live after Genesis chapter three, where all of that's messed up, then how can it really be an act of worship to Him? How can it be something that's a real calling on our lives? Of course, this is where the Gospel comes in. This is where the good news of Jesus comes in. Because not only did Jesus come to die on the cross for our sins, I mean, he did that. And that was a huge deal. But he did that in order to satisfy the demands of a holy in a perfect God, so that he could provide an atmosphere that was conducive now for him to come live in for him to come dwell in for his life, to be expressed through us now. And so now with with putting us back what let's just think of it this way. When you and I received that gift through faith, and we have His forgiveness applied to us and he comes to dwell in us. It's like we were moving back to where they were in the garden. In the garden, they were already in union with God. They were walking with him talking with him. He was their sources, they entered into the work. It was an act of worship and expression of worship to Him. They were adding value to these things. It was a calling on their life. And now when you and I put our faith and trust in Him, the same thing that they were able to work under in those situations is what's available to us. us the life of Christ, we're in union with Him, completely forgiven him moving powerfully in us and through us for his life to be expressed through us. And one of the ways he does that is through the work that he has created each and every single one of us to do and participate in, in this world that he has created. And so as a new creation in Christ, when we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, we first of all look for him to lead us into and call us into the work that he wants us to do. He's our guide. So we we pray, okay, I know I'm different. Now you're giving me I'm seeing through Scripture. You've called me to this. So so it's not just Okay, where's the job that I can make some money yet? It's a prayerful consideration of Spirit, Jesus living in me through the Spirit, where are you leading me to work? Are you calling me to add value into this world through the work that I'm going to do with the gifts and abilities and talents and personality that you've given me. And then we make ourselves available to him, when he calls us into that and reveals it, he empowers us to be able to carry those things out. And he does what he said he would do. He uses that work to cultivate the world, to make it better in some way to add value in some way to bring light and life into this dark world through the work that we're doing. And in the way that we do the work that we're doing. And the way that we treat people whom we're working with while doing the work that we're doing to get all that it's why the Apostle Paul on the other side of the cross, could write back to those who have said yes to Jesus, they were reinstated to that initial way that it was in the garden and say this in Colossians, 317. And whatever you do, whether in word or excuse me, whether in word or deed, do it all through the name of Jesus, the Lord Jesus giving thanks to God, the Father through him, whatever you do is pretty comprehensive. I think that certainly would include work, right? Whatever it is that you do whatever work you're called into, as a teacher, construction worker, an office worker, a plumber, a salesman, a firefighter, law enforcement, stay at home, mom or dad, whatever it is that you do, you allow Jesus to work through you as an expression of his life in you to bring glory and honor to his name and bring light and life into the world. So again, my hope today is that you've seen that the work that you do, has his value and significance. A lot of us when we start to think about this, you go, Okay, I could kind of see that. And maybe it's about our attitude, maybe it's about the way we treat people the conversations that we have. And that's certainly part of it. But what I want you to see today is it's not just that it is even the actual work that you are doing, that brings God glory and honor, it is an expression of him, your work is important. And as he empowers you to carry out that he is adding value into this world in some way through you to make it better, to bring glory and honor to his name, I hope you've seen that hope you've seen that you can't separate the worship of Sunday, from the worship of Monday through Friday at your job. It can be just as spiritual of a thing is what you and I are doing right now in this room. There is no such thing as a spiritual and a secular. When Jesus dwells in us, His Spirit never leaves us. So every thing we ever into enter into is what a spiritual activity. We can't separate it. Oh, there's church and there's the spiritual are really good things. And then there's the other things that I do. It's all intertwined together. Your work has meaning it is not just a way to pay the bills. It is not just a way to make some money to be able to live it up on the weekend and have some real fun. It's not even just meant to work it all out so that one day you can finally enter into real life and have some fun then, right now just got to put your head down and grind it out and get through it. If Jesus is our life in our joy, and he created us to work, then we will enter into that work. Guess what we're going to experience His life and His joy It's not going to be drudgery, it's, it's gonna be difficult. Sometimes sin is gonna, I'm not gonna say it's all perfect, but you'll see him involved in it and what it is that he's going to do to add value to the world to bring light into the darkness to bring others into His kingdom. So we're gonna talk about all of these things and the way that it impacts our lives in more specific and practical ways. Throughout this series, that when we get this when we see footage we see that God created us to work and creators to work is an expression of worship to Him that transforms the way that you approach your work each and every single day. And that's my hope and prayer, that as we end today, and you get ready for work tomorrow, or whatever it is that he's called you to in this age and stage and phase of life, that you will look to Him for how he's leading you to approach the work that he's called you into, and how he wants to work in and through you to bring him worship glory and honor along the way. Father, thank you so much for your word, thank you that this is where truth is found. And that we we see how you really created us and the world to work. And in this moment, we make ourselves available to you to lead and guide us into the work you've called us to. For some of us, that's a career. For some of us, that's a job. For some of us, we're not there yet, and we're just in school. But that's kind of like the job, you've called us into what the calling you have on our lives right now. And this applies to us in that stage as well. So we make ourselves available to you, to look for you to guide us into that work and power us to be able to carry it out to be done in a way that brings you worship and glory and honor that adds value into other people's lives. And in this world that you created. We pray that others would see your love and your grace and Your mercy and in ultimately you working in us and through us and that they will be drawn to you and all that you offer them in their lives as well. Use us as your church. To be an expression of you through our work each and every single day this week. Father, I also pray for those who are here today, who maybe have yet to take a step of faith they've yet to receive you as their Lord and Savior in or separated from you and ultimately using their work to bring their own meaning and purpose and define themselves and make a name for themselves and prove worth value. Predict continue to stir and work in them to show them that you've done all the work necessary to not just forgive their sins, but to bring them all of the value and significance and fulfillment that they'll ever need that they've always craved. Pray that you'll remind them or show them right now. Even in this moment, cowhide that no matter who they are, where they've been what they've done, that you love them, that you sent Jesus to die for them, that they can have your forgiveness. You can have your life in them if they'll just receive it by taking a simple step of faith. enable and empower them to take that step this morning. Father, whoever it is that you're leading each and every one of us to respond to this moment we make ourselves available to you Jesus name amen