vocation

Christ Is Sovereign Over Your Cubicle

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Early in my Christian life, the story of Stephen the martyr fascinated me. It could have been the idea of a young man standing up for his faith against harsh opponents. Or his willingness to die for his faith as the gospel went out through the early church. Or his ability to summarize the whole Old Testament in about as many words as it takes me to explain how to get to the nearest grocery store from my house.

But the most invigorating portion of Stephen’s story lies towards the end of his sermon. In Acts 6, critics accuse Stephen of claiming that Jesus will destroy the temple. But Stephen says the temple is not the only place where God is present and dwelling. He cites Isaiah 66: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth my footstool…Did not my hand make all these things?”

Sit with Stephen’s words. The whole earth is His — and that includes your workspace.

God-less work goes against the created order. God-filled work leads to flourishing and fulfillment.

But I’m in the Secular Workspace.

Au contraire, you think. You can see dichotomies all across Scripture. Good and evil. Life and death. Righteousness and sinfulness. These are all true and real biblical dichotomies. But a “secular” and “sacred” divide is not one of them. God is not only present in your church or only in your quiet time. He is also present as you work or as you study or as you walk the dog. This is not to say that “secularism” is a myth. It’s true, as Charles Taylor argues, “secularism” is the age in which we live. We live in the historical moment where an increasing segment of our culture wants to ignore God entirely. The age may be secular, but your work doesn’t have to be. God-less work goes against the created order. God-filled work leads to flourishing and fulfillment.

Cultivate your Cubicle.

Isn’t this what we see from the beginning? God dwells with Adam and gives him a mandate: to cultivate and to keep (Genesis 1:28). Just as God is working and creating, Adam is also given a job. This is a pre-fall reality. This work is not fully lost after the Adam and Eve are taken out of the garden. If anything, the reality of God’s presence in our work is harder to recognize. For some vocations, the connection between God and your work may be easy to see. But for others, the idea that your work is fulfilling this mandate and is work towards God’s kingdom may seem implausible.

If God is truly sovereign over all things, including your work, and if work is fulfillment of God’s mandate, then your work is never meaningless or just something you do to make money. Rather, Christ has filled your work with meaning and purpose. The ways in which this is worked out, practically, are as unique as the variety of jobs. It would be an impossible task to explain how every vocation can be Christ-honoring in its distinct way, but there are several ways in which all Christians can work as Christians no matter the workplace.

1. Work Well

Paul tells the church in Colossae that whatever they do, they should work from the heart, as something “done for the Lord and not for people,” (Colossian 3:23). How do you do that? How does working “Christianly” look different? Well, it may not. Tim Keller uses the example of an airline pilot. How might a Christian pilot do her work Christianly? “Land the plane,” he says. Your work can be godly work simply by getting the job done. A pilot landing a plane is doing her job as another other pilot should. But a Christian pilot can look to Christ as see the preservation of life as being a result of doing her job well.

2. Work with Love

As with any aspect of the Christian life, we are called to love. The workplace is no exception. We are called, throughout Scripture, to love our neighbor. As the expert in the law asked, “And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29) Some of your nearest neighbors are those you work 40-plus hours with. The call to love your neighbor does not come with an asterisk; your coworkers and your clients are included in Christ’s command. Love is another mark of a Christian as they work.

3. Work While Abiding in Christ

If God is present in your work, you can’t leave your faith at the front door of your workplace. We must cling to Christ as we work. Any job can be difficult, but a worker abiding in Christ has comfort like no other. A worker marked by Christ has a different framework. The goodness of work is not immediate and temporary, but patient and eternal. If we see our work merely as a means to a financial end, we will be disappointed and constantly unsatisfied. Instead, we can see our work as a means to a Kingdom end and be wholly satisfied in Christ’s constant provision.

“Mine.”

My workspace is essentially a lobby. People pass through while I’m working all the time. Some come in and sit down as a rest area before they’re about to meet others. I’m not offended by this, but I feel like I’m missing out. I sometimes get a jealous feeling of those who have offices and can personalize their space to match their interests. I think to myself, “If I had my own space, it could have signed baseballs on the wall and pictures of my family and this and that…” If that were the case, then it would finally be mine.

But God says, “No, it’s Mine.” Whether your workspace is the Oval Office, a CEO office, a cubicle, or a kitchen table as you do remote work, God says, “mine.” Brother, see your work as God-filled. Sister, let your work testify of God’s goodness.

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Gabe Magan

Dancer Fellow

Gabe Magan is the Dancer Fellow of the L. Russ Bush Center for Faith and Culture. Gabe also works for the N.C. Baptist State Convention as Executive Assistant for Convention Relations. He and his wife are members and serve at the Summit Church in Raleigh, NC. He enjoys reading good books, drinking great coffee and being mediocre at golf.

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