Working in the Spirit: More Than a Carpenter, But Not Less (Sermon Notes)

Sermon Notes / Produced by The High Calling
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Lobbyist Hilary Rosen dismissed Ann Romney’s qualifications for speaking to women’s issues because Romney spent her life as a stay-at-home mom having “never worked a day in her life.” Hilary Rosen is no doubt a thoughtful person, but her comments illustrate the inadequate cultural narrative we have come to embrace. Is our work defined by financial remuneration or our contribution to the common good? Wendell Berry writes, “The significance and ultimately the quality of the work we do is determined by our understanding of the story in which we are taking part.”

What will the quality and significance of your work truly be? What story will animate your heart and stir your imagination? A Christian worldview and the Gospel it proclaims bring a story of work that fosters human flourishing and serves the common good. Yet Christians struggle to connect our faith and work in the everyday. Further, pastors encourage the false dichotomy that fuels the confusion. Regardless of our vocation, most struggle with a Sunday-to-Monday disconnect. The question is, how do we reconnect our faith and work? Where do faith and vocation intersect? How does the gospel affect every aspect of life? What does the Bible say about work?

A) We were created with work in mind (Genesis 1-2) We’re introduced in Genesis 1 to a God who works. As image-bearers, we are to work. Our work is integral to God’s creation design and creation mandate. Genesis 2:15 says Adam was to cultivate and keep the garden of Eden. The defining difference of work and non-work was rest, not remuneration. What is work? Work is our particular contribution to God’s good world and to the common good. Work is integral to who we are and to our purpose in the world and to God’s redemptive mission in the world. You have a contribution to make! You have been called by God to make that contribution!

B) Fall-affected work (Gen. 3) Sin’s effects even reach to our work in the world (Gen. 3:16-17). But the good news is that God redeems the worker, work, and workplace through the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

C) Jesus the worker (Mark 6:1-3) Jesus spent a majority of his earthly life in a dusty carpenter’s shop. Only about three years of his earthly sojourn were spent teaching and healing. Jesus was clearly more than a carpenter, but he was not less.

D) The Great Commandment as work (Mark 12:1-3) How do we love God and love our neighbor? We do both best primarily through what we’re called to do with most of our time…our work!

E) Colossian Connection (Col. 3:23) Gospel faith profoundly connects to work. Paul describes how the Gospel transforms the worker and the workplace, bringing dignity, worth, fairness, and justice. The gospel saves us from great peril, for a great purpose.

Frederick Buechner made this insightful observation. “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s hunger meet (Leading Lives That Matter, pg. 111).”

God is restoring all things and our work, your work is an integral part of that. You have been created and redeemed with work in mind, with a specific contribution to make in his good but badly broken and needy world.

Your work really matters! Work takes up most of life because God designed human beings to spend most of their time serving one another and making our world a better place.

So where is God calling you? From Genesis to Revelation, the biblical story of work tells us that our vocation is integral and not incidental to both reflecting the image of God and accomplishing his redemptive and restorative mission in the world.

As you prayerfully pursue your vocational calling, may I encourage you to connect your Sunday faith with your Monday work! Let me offer three reminders for each and every day.

1) Remember your work is an act of worship! What you do in your workplace on Monday is no less an act of worship than what you do in church on Sunday! Your audience of one is the same on Sunday as it is on Monday!

2) Remember your work is an important stewardship! Jesus’ parable of the talents, or we may say, parable of the money managers, reminds us that faithfulness in our work not only matters now, but for the future. Your vocational stewardship is one of the most important stewardships you have in life!

3) Remember, your work is to be done well! Dorothy Sayers, one of C. S. Lewis’ contemporaries, thought deeply about the intersection of the Christian faith and our work. Dorothy Sayers put it this way, “The only Christian work, is good work well done.”

My work as a pastor is no more Christian work than your work— whatever God calls you to! There is a common thread in this fabric of faithfulness. That we would close the Sunday-to-Monday gap by doing good work for the glory of God and the common good! May you live into God’s story of work and may the place God calls you be the place where your deep gladness and the world’s hunger meet!

Tom graduated with a Masters of Theology degree from Dallas Theological Seminary and received his doctorate from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He and his wife, Liz, arrived in Kansas City in 1989 to begin Christ Community Church. Tom has served as senior pastor there since that time. Tom received his ordination with the EFCA in 1992. He has served on the Midwest District Board as well as the National Ministerial Association Board. Currently he serves on the Board of Regents for Trinity International University. Tom is the author of Five Smooth Stones: Discovering the Path to Wholeness of Soul, Ekklesia: Rediscovering God’s Design for the Church, and Work Matters: Connecting Sunday Worship With Monday Work. He is also a conference speaker who calls the evangelical community to walk deeply and authentically with God. Tom and Liz reside in Leawood, Kansas. They have two adult children, Schaeffer and Sarah.