My Father’s Business
Last Saturday about 15 people with a mutual interest in Christ’s kingdom in the workplace gathered for mutual support and prayer. One of the brothers shared quite passionately of seeing lovely young people join a firm’s IT department and being turned into “machines” by the work ethic there. A pastor spoke of the difficulty in getting young professionals to “find time for God” in their busy working lives. In the midst of this dialogue I started to see some things that the Spirit wants to share with the Church, especially the Church in the marketplace. Christians mourn the increasing ungodliness of our culture; the way forward to reverse this is to sense that all the spheres of work were designed by the Father to reveal his glory in the Son.
Gifts for the Son
“He is the image of the invisible God…by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.” (Col 1:15-16). ““Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business”” (Luke 2:49)
Nothing in this workaday world exists by chance; all the spheres of life and culture exist as part of the Father’s plan to reveal the fullness of his glory in Christ as the image of God. The various domains of government, art, science, law, education, business, health, media, sport and so on are the Father’s gift to the Son in order for their mutual pleasure within creation. The making of humanity in the divine image at the pinnacle of creation is the high point in this divine plan (Gen 1:26-31; Prov 8:30-31). The various human activities we see today, from painting to engineering, are all spheres in which the wisdom and knowledge of Christ might be clearly seen. The image and glory of God was first reflected in the dominion over creation given us in Eden (Gen 1:26; 2:15). Being employed by the LORD was an integral dimension of our unfallen existence.
Hiding in the Busi/y – ness
When Adam and Eve fell under the rule of the serpent the godly vocation of labour was turned into painful toil and a never ending quest to survive in a cursed world (Gen 3:16-19). People commonly think of work as a necessary evil; until one wins Lotto! The dehumanisation in the marketplace, turning lovely people into machines, is a sign of the loss of God’s glory. The struggle to survive is not primarily between labour and capital, rich and poor, multinationals and little people. The real enemy is the evil “principalities and powers… in the heavenly places” who have usurped dominion over the spheres of work and culture (Eph 6:12). They, not the boss, are our true abusers. These powerful beings were created for the Christ’s glory in the world but now desire to rule us by imposing over our humanity their own fragmented and depersonalised lives (Matt 8:29; Col 1:16). Most Christians are in ignorance complicit in Satan’s evil schemes in the workplace (Eph 6:11).
With hectic lives too busy to “find time for God” busyness at work has become a means of hiding from the Lord. The energy and affirmation gained through strenuous success in employment is just another “fig leaf” to cover up a deep inner sense of relational shame with God (Gen 3:7). It is impossible to be driven in the workplace and to experience the purpose for which work was originally designed; sharing in the pleasure of Father and Son in the wonder and wisdom of creation. The pleasures of God are the solution to the discipleship crisis of the Church in the world. What about lazy workers? Sloth is a form of secret rebellion driven by the desire to be one’s own and only boss. This too denies the glory of God. Thankfully the Spirit is speaking of a way forward in Christ.
Restoring the Tent
“the church…is his (Christ’s) body, the fullness of him who fills all things in every way” (Eph 1:22-23). God’s answer to the dominion of evil powers in the world of work is his presence in all the spheres of life and culture through the Church; “through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.” (Eph 3:10). There is a rich wisdom of Christ for the Christian geologist, tradie, school teacher and so on that can reveal his kingdom in every place. Think of Joseph, Daniel and that famous tent maker Paul. In this very hour the Spirit of God is stitching together a tent in the heavenly places of our city. The Lord is “rebuilding the tent of David” (Acts 15:16). When David brought the ark of God into Jerusalem he placed it in a tent. Even though the humble dwelling for the ark was embarrassed king David these were the glory days of Israel which would be remembered for many generations to come (2 Sam 6:17; 7:2).
The ark stood for the presence of the glory of God amongst his people and was the Lord’s footstool (1 Sam 4:21; 1 Chron 28:2). To “worship at his footstool” today is not to travel to a special physical location, like Solomon’s temple or a church building, but to worship at the feet of Jesus (Psa 110:1; Acts 2:34-36). These feet are found in every place where the Church in the world bows to the wisdom of God in Christ. This is the wisdom of Christ as the tent of God which was destroyed and rebuilt i.e. crucified and risen (John 1:14; 2:18-22). Over such wisdom dwelling in the Church the evil powers ruling the workaday world have no power! More can be seen about this tent for glory which the Lord is erecting today.
The tent is the relationships of love between believers stretched across the city; its central pole is the gathered Church and the outer poles are the various spheres of government, art, science, law, education, business, health, media, sport and so on by which this tent is raised up. (The ribs of the tent are the 5-fold ministry gifts in Church and marketplace.) When these usually separate spheres come together in Christ e.g. sculptors uniting with mining workers, then Jesus’ glory will be manifest in our cities in amazingly ways. The Spirit is passionate to take the wisdom of Jesus outside of the gathered Church.
I sense the Lord wanting to mentor the workplace in our day. This will involve the integration of networks of believers from the various spheres of work walking together with intercessors, pastors etc. in times of prayer, conferences, workshops and outreaches. All of this designed to “equip the saints for the work of ministry” bearing the image of God throughout the wider world (Eph 4:10, 12). When this united action takes place the prophetic word, “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” (Hab 2:14), will become tangible in our midst. Is it time to act on the exhortation, ““Enlarge the place of your tent and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out; do not hold back; lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes.” (Isa 54:2 cf. Gal 4:27). What do you think?