Work and Worldview

The culture and spiritual climate at our workplaces may be vastly different from God’s kingdom, but in our words and actions we are representing our home in a foreign land.

Topics: Work

A few years ago, a good friend of mine facing a major life decision asked for my advice. He was trying to decide between two job opportunities—one was a job in ministry and the other was not. At one point in the conversation, he asked, “Do you think that I can honor God in my work, even if it is not in ministry?”

This question captures a struggle that I believe a lot of Christians face. I have heard this concern expressed in other ways: Does my work mean anything? How does who I am on Sunday affect what I do Monday through Friday? What connection exists between my Christian convictions and my non-Christian profession?

The improv show “Whose Line is it Anyway?” often did a sketch entitled “News Flash,” where one actor stood in front of a green screen as a field reporter without knowing the story he was supposed to report. Other actors and the audience provided clues to help the field reporter figure it out, and the game ended when the reporter correctly guessed the scene.

The game was fun to watch, but it also communicated a larger truth: The reporter’s actions were only meaningful after he understood the context within which they took place. If the scene showed a herd of cows, it was meaningless for him to act like he was in the middle of war combat. What happened in the foreground only made sense when it corresponded to what was going on in the background.

Every human life is like this game. People conduct their lives according to the story they believe is playing out behind them. We have all bought into a narrative in which we have a role that gives us meaning and purpose. What we believe is on the screen behind us is our worldview. The Christian worldview is that God, through Scripture, has revealed His grand story on the global green screen of His creation, and it is in this story that every human participates. Those who fail to accept this reality and choose to adopt an alternative worldview act in the foreground inconsistently with the true background. Aspects of life will still make sense, but without embracing the biblical narrative as the green screen for life, the deepest searches for truth, meaning and identity will return devastatingly shallow. Life will appear like the reporter pretending to be in a battle that doesn’t exist.

The Bible teaches that the scene on the green screen of creation is the kingdom of God, inaugurated in the death and resurrection of Jesus and awaiting consummation upon His return. When we accurately see ourselves as actors in this story, our activity in the foreground harmonizes with the scene in the background. It ensures that in every vein of life our role is deeply meaningful because we are not simply getting through the day, but we are part of a story that extends into eternity.

Therefore, the biblical worldview provides the foundation upon which every Christian should approach their work or vocation. We are all representatives of God’s grand story; we are called to declare the mission and ethics of the kingdom of God here on earth. Before being an accountant, sales rep, teacher or journalist, every Christian is first and foremost an ambassador living out the reality of God’s kingdom amidst the kingdom of the world. This is the background that informs our foreground.

I once worked with a woman who was born and raised in Costa Rica, and she would often bring food or wear clothing that was specific to Costa Rican culture. Although she was no longer physically in that culture, she was representing her home in a foreign place. She often said that she had brought a little piece of Costa Rica to Texas.

The same is true for us. The culture and spiritual climate at our workplaces may be vastly different from God’s kingdom, but in our words and actions we are representing our home in a foreign land and bringing a little piece of the kingdom of light into the kingdom of darkness. The ways in which we do this are as varied and unique as there are people and jobs. Our work itself can be a service to others. We can love our co-workers, treat them as neighbors and take advantage of opportunities to share the gospel with them. Regardless of our specific jobs, we can do our work with excellence as unto the Lord.

So to get back to my friend’s question, the answer is “yes.” God has invited you into His grand story, and the roles in that story are not exclusive to pastors and missionaries. Your identity as one who has been changed by the gospel and called to its mission shatters the false dichotomy between your Sunday and your workday. There is meaningful space in God’s story for mechanics, doctors, truck drivers and people of all different professions to honor the Lord by living out their God-given roles while fulfilling their job-defined tasks. When you see the world the way God sees the world, you will see your work the way God sees your work.