The early church taught about two types of lives: the Perfect life and the Permitted life. The spiritual and the secular. The Perfect life allows for reflection in place of work (monks, priests, nuns, anyone who does nothing but sit around and think holy thoughts, etc). The Permitted life requires labor. These people (the laborers) were considered spiritually and socially lower than those who led the Perfect life. This status quo existed until Martin Luther challenged this paradigm, giving dignity to the laborers and creating nations of middle class.
But pause and reflect on your own account of society… how much or how little has it changed from this original paradigm? Do we not still consider those of high religious position to be more holy then that of a janitor or businessman? Is this not a deeper rooted school of thought that our salvation is earned? Why else would we rate a man’s holiness by their career choice? But consider… what job did Jesus take on? A carpenter, a hard laborer. There is no work that is below the dignity of a prophet, priest or king.
“Laborare est Orare, Work is worship All true Work is sacred; in all true Work, were it but hand-labour, there is something of divines . No man has work, or can work, except religiously; not even the poor day-laborer, the weaver of your coat, the sewer of your shoes.” – Thomas Carlyle
Sometimes I think I need more time to focus on God. Like I should take a month and just do “spiritual things.” But this is what I’ve learned… If you own a business, for example, you don’t need to quit your business to join full time ministry. Instead, continue your business, but ask yourself this… “If God was running my business, how would He run it?” The place that you work is your parish; we are all priests. Your work is your unique contribution in furthering God’s kingdom. Praise God IN your work… don’t tack it on at the end with a Bible study, a prayer, or a weak attempt to convert your co-workers.
Food for the Hungry has adopted this mentality at the core of our work. This is not an organization that does food distributions, yells out an “AMEN!” and moves on to the next community. From the staff on the field to the staff in the offices in America – we all seek to worship God in our work… in decisions we make, in the way we use our time, etc. It’s not easy – but it’s so much more fulfilling.
I challenge you to praise God in your work today – then tell me about it here.
“… there is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is sovereign over all, does not cry; ‘MINE!’” – Abraham Kuyper.
Christ is Lord over all aspects of life, not just the spiritual stuff.
This blog was inspired by a session I had the opportunity to sit in on from the author Darrow Miller. If you want more wisdom like this check out darrowmillerandfriends.com