Here’s a quick thought exercise. What do you think of when you read this?
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. (Colossians 3:1).
Let me ask the question more directly. When you consider what it would mean to obey this command, do you ever envision thinking about your job? Or do you feel like thinking about work goes directly against the command to “seek the things above”?
Right now, Michael Langer, Nathan O’Bryon, and I are in Kansas City on the first of three retreats with an organization called “Made to Flourish.” It’s a time meant for us, together with leaders from a few other churches, to grow in our ability to help our congregation better integrate our Christian faith with our daily responsibilities in our work. And one thing that has struck me today is how when we think of biblical phrases like “the things above” or “the kingdom of heaven” we rarely, if ever, think of work.
This is a problem, because what it does is trivializes our work as somehow unimportant to God, as something we shouldn’t value. It makes work seem “unspiritual.” And so for many of us, our lives feel a big disconnect between Sunday and Monday.
The truth is that work is deeply spiritual. God himself worked, creating this earth, and he made us to work. And as Jesus redeems us, he’s not just recapturing our souls, he’s restoring us into people for whom work is a manner of worship. Just as our bodies are being resurrected (and not replaced) and this world is itself being renewed, so also should we understand that our work is being redeemed. We should expect to work—joyfully—in the world to come.
And so when we are invited to “seek the things that are above,” we are not being turned away from work; we are being turned to work in its redeemed form, in which we honor Christ by working with competence, integrity, and mercy for his glory. In our work, Jesus’ kingdom comes.
I am grateful for the many ways God sends our congregation into our communities to do his work.