Work and the World
God loves the world. This is evident throughout Scripture and is given full expression in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Yet John also warned us: “Do not love the world or anything in the world” (1 John 2:15). The apparent contradiction in these verses is easily resolved. We are not to ‘love the world’, meaning that part of creation that seeks to run itself without any reference to God. However, we are to love the world that God has created; the environment (which he has given to us to preserve for future generations) and people, whom God created and for whom Christ died.
In the course of our careers, we will encounter many people. Behind the suits and uniforms live vulnerable individuals in need of affirmation and support. We all need commendation and recognition for the positive things we do at work. Day to day we need to seek opportunities to go against the grain; to offer small acts of kindness or words of encouragement to our colleagues, or simply to be positive in negative situations. I know a lawyer who makes a point of complimenting one person in the office each day. His aim is to counter the negative words spoken around him. Learning to love our neighbour, surely the hallmark of the Christian faith, is tested each day in the fire of the workplace.
The workplace provides us with opportunities to go against the grain. We have the opportunity to live Jesus’ mandate to love our neighbour as ourselves. In John 17, Jesus outlined an inherent tension we face, saying that his followers are in the world but not of the world. But this he meant that although we aim to operate by the values of the kingdom of God, geographically we are located in the workplaces of the world. As we walk through the fields of life, we pick up burrs of loneliness, disappointment, and purposelessness. We find ourselves both bearing and breaking the image of a dysfunctional society. We have to live with uncertainty and complexity, but we have not been left without assistance: the Holy Spirit comes alongside to help us.