It is easy as Christians to feel we are not doing enough of ‘God’s work’. Those Christians who work specifically in Christian Ministry may feel that unless they spend every part of their waking hours in pursuit of Christian service, prayer or bible study they are failing in their duties to the Lord. Those in secular jobs may feel that they are not fully immersed in working for the Lord and can often wonder if they should be in a role, which in their eyes, more clearly aligns with Christian Ministry. While recently studying the Gospel of John I came across a talk given by David Pawson on John’s Gospel. There is a line in which David Pawson explains how, because of the influence of Greek thinking on Western Society, the sacred and the secular have become divided. David Pawson says; “I will never let a Christian tell me he’s in a secular job….you’re not, you’re in full time Christian service whatever your job is.”
But what is full time Christian service, what is the ‘work’ Jesus wants us to do? It can be summed up in one word: ‘Love’ - it’s as simple as that, Jesus told us we should love: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’” (Matthew 22:36-39). “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this, everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35). We are to show the love of Christ to others in whatever work, job, role, or position we undertake during the course of our lives.
‘Love’ – sounds easy doesn’t it? I love my husband, my children, my friends, my fellow Christians, or at least I do when everything is going fine…. It’s easy to love others when they love you right back. But… what if my husband decides to leave our marriage…. he’s found someone else he prefers to be with? What if my children decide to abandon the Christian teaching they’ve been brought up with and travel down paths I’d rather they didn’t go? What if my parents say hurtful things and compare me to a sibling it is obvious they favour…or worse still, abuse my trust and innocence? What if my boss starts to bully me or passes over me for the promotion I feel I deserve? What if my work colleagues laugh at me because I go to church on Sundays when they are having a lie in or going to the pub? What if my close friend turns against me and betrays our friendship? What if my Christian brothers and sisters misunderstand me?..….Am I to love in all these circumstances? What if I feel God Himself lets me down…doesn’t give me good parents or a good marriage, doesn’t give me the job I want, doesn’t give me the children I desire, doesn’t make me better, allows me to suffer……. Am I still to love Him?
As hard as it is, the answer is ‘yes’ and found in Matthew 22:36-39 above. We are to love the Lord and each other in whatever circumstance and situation we find ourselves in. This is tough, seemingly impossible, but Jesus never promised us it would be easy work to be His follower. In fact, He told us it would be hard, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33). What He did promise us though is that He will be with us in all our circumstances and situations, good or bad, happy or sad, healthy or sick, easy or struggling, persecuted or free: “The LORD Himself goes before you; He will be with you. He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid or discouraged." (Deuteronomy 31:8). Corrie Ten Boom felt the Lord calling her to take His love to post war, devastated Germany. She journeyed throughout the land speaking in many places. In Berlin she talked about forgiveness and afterwards was approached by an ex-Nazi soldier who held out his hand to her and asked her if she remembered him. To her horror she looked up and saw standing in front of her the very prison guard who had been so cruel to her and her sister in the concentration camp where they had been incarcerated together. Corrie’s sister died in that concentration camp. How she hated that guard! She prayed to the Lord to help her lift her hand to the prison guard’s hand. “If I lift my hand,” she prayed, “you supply the feeling Lord.” As Corrie’s hand touched the prison’s guard’s hand she felt a surge of warmth descend down her arm which she described as God’s love flowing through her. She grabbed the prison guard’s hand and shook it firmly.
Whatever kind of ‘work’ we find ourselves doing in life we are, as David Pawson reminds us, engaged in Christian service. Our ‘job’ is to show the Lord’s love to all His creation. He may ask us to show His love in some strange and tough situations but if we are willing to trust Him, He has promised to be with us, strengthen us and to never stop loving us.
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39).