A Christian Perspective on Work — Part 3

A Christian Perspective on Work — Part 3 June 18, 2012

What happens to the workplace when it’s transformed bythe gospel? Employees are respectful, honest, conscientious, and cheerful.Employers offer fair wages, show concern for employees’ wellbeing, and resistall temptation to power plays or coercion. It’s Paul’s focus in Ephesians6:5-9, and it’s part of a larger discussion he’s carried through the whole bookof Ephesians about how the cross of Christ restores everything that was brokenby the Fall.

My question last week was “How?” How exactly does thecross produce these powerful attitudinal effects in the workplace? Practicallyspeaking, what is it about the gospel that helps a Christian worker respect adeadbeat boss or remain cheerful at a dead-end job? Why would Christian supervisorsmotivate without threats and coercion?

Laced throughout Paul’s admonitions to employees andemployers are references to Christ: “as you would Christ” (v 5), “as servantsof Christ” (v 6), “as to the Lord and not to man” (v 7), “this he will receiveback from the Lord,” (v 8), “he who is both their Master and yours is inheaven” (v 9). Five times, he mentions Jesus. Paul powerfully broadens thehorizons for employees and employers both, calling them to discern the figureof their Heavenly Master behind the people with whom they work. Thus, mundanetasks can take on a much higher orientation—serving Christ Himself. Jesus’ ruleover our lives relates to how we perform our tasks on the job.

This orientation to Jesus in our work is simply anextension of the gospel. The gospel teaches that when Jesus saves us, He makesus His own, personal slaves.

Freed from being slaves to sin, now we are slaves torighteousness (Rom 6:16-19) and slaves of Christ (Eph 6:6). A gospel-centeredwork ethic never forgets that we are, first and foremost, servants of the MostHigh God, slaves of Jesus Christ. He alone is our Master, and we areaccountable to Him and Him alone. Cross-centered workers live every moment withtheir eyes fixed on two awesome days: the day of their atonement on Calvary and the day of their accounting in heaven. Awareof their atonement, they serve with joy and confidence. Aware of their accountability,they work with diligence and devotion.

The implications of this cross-centered work ethic arevast, and I’ll develop them a bit in next week’s final column on this subject.