In the early years of Christianity and into the medieval period, some Christians thought that life in the “normal” world somehow kept one from having a close relationship with God. Men and women who wanted to be closer to God would forsake the ordinary world—owning and managing property, marrying, raising children, and the like—to devote themselves to more spiritual things. They were called monks and nuns. Society of the time actually believed that these people did the spiritual work of the community and everybody else did the earthly work. If you needed a prayer said, you paid a monk to pray it. If you needed some meat to eat, you paid a butcher to cut it.
We westerners don’t think this way anymore, but I think we still sometimes fall into the trap of separating too much the work we do through the church and the work we do every day in our personal lives. I’ve also seen many a church worker (church secretaries, business managers, new teachers and young pastors) be disillusioned after realizing that working for the church isn’t such a spiritual experience. There are lots of good reasons to work for a church, but being more spiritual is not one of them! Working for the church can run you as ragged as anywhere else in the world.
You see, regardless the name of your employer—whether it is St. Paul Lutheran Church, Dell Computers, McDonalds, or Walmart—or even if you are self-employed, God has a plan and purpose for us. He has a purpose for us through our church and in our everyday lives. In fact, there is no distinction in God’s eyes. Everyday—Monday or Sunday—God desires to bring forth His purpose through you.
How much time are we spending praying about this and seeking this? Hopefully the last 30 days has given you a good start.
But, too easily we keep our heads down and our eyes focused on the text task at hand, or we get distracted by the smart device beeping, buzzing or dinging in our hand. Either way, we aren’t looking up and looking to accomplish God’s purpose.
So hear these words from Scripture:
“In your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. (1 Peter 3:15)
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for me, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:23-24)
“You are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for His treasured possession, out of all the peoples of the earth.” (Deuteronomy 7:6)
“Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness.” (2 Peter 3:11)
“You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9)
In that last verse, the Latin word for priest is pontifex which means “bridge builder.” And that is what we are! We are bridge builders. A priest builds bridges between God and people and between people and people. No matter what our job is and no matter where we work, we are always serving as His bridge builders.
We talk a lot about vocation in the church, which simply means the various God-given rolls we fill in life. These include being husband or wife, son or daughter, mom or dad, brother or sister, friend, co worker, employee, employer, citizen, etc. God has a purpose for giving you these rolls in life. You serve God by filling these rolls in a godly way. You serve as His priest toward others as you fill these rolls in life.
It has always helped me to ask the question: How does my being a ___________ (fill in the blank with husband, dad, friend, etc.) to my ___________ (fill in blank with wife, son, friend, etc.) today enable me to build a bridge? How am I building that bridge? How is my impatience, agenda, busyness, or attitude getting in the way of building that bridge?
Dear Jesus, I thank You that You love me more than I can know or understand. I thank You that Your love built a bridge, through Your death and resurrection, to my Father in heaven and my eternal home. Please help me to be a bridge builder, too. Let Your love and Spirit in me work to build bridges between all divisions and groups. Help me to be mindful how I use my words and my behavior so that I bring peace not division, love not discord, joy and not frustration. In Your precious name. Amen.