Christianity · doctrine · theology

You Are Not Your Job, but Love What You Do…

Often when we are introduced or being introduced to new people a common question prefaces the discussion.

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“What do you do (i.e. for a living)?” or even “What are you(i.e. what is your job)?” Most of us just answer this without thinking of the implications of the question. The question, in and of itself, doesn’t do much more in the context of the conversation than attempt at a starting point to find out more of the person being questioned, such as: possible interests, goals, financial acumen, etc. Peeling back some of the layers of explicit intentions by the questioner, perhaps some implicit ideas of what you are answering of yourself are right beneath the surface of your response.
A small tangent before I continue. What follows are my gleanings and present actions when being asked the question. I do not necessarily need people to do as I do in this situation, only to think of the intentions in your answering the question within your professed worldview (assumed to be a Christian one). Starting conversations with people whom you’ve never met is difficult, and I do not think there is a correct conversation starter question to be had. Different situations call for different approaches. Now I’ll move on ahead to making some people angry, some confused, and others just reading this and moving along in tacit agreement.

People (including myself) answer this on occasion with responses not even in the category of occupational. Some responses I’ve given in the past are; Rock Climber, Cyclist, Mod, Punk, and a Baseball Player. Some people have responded to me with answers depicting (what I presume to be) their greatest passions: Vegan, Vegetarian, Yogi, Hippie, Retired etc. Regardless if one answers with hobbies or occupational titles the answer encodes something you believe about yourself, “I am a(choose your title).”
At the core the response should give the person(who doesn’t know you from Adam) a first impression as to what is your greatest desire. To put it another way,

you’re giving them the identity through which all other interactions will take place.

Let that sink in a bit.

If someone where to ask me, “What are you?” and I answer with “I’m a Landscaper.” what may be the next question? It’s probably going to have to do with landscaping, right? If I ask someone the same question and they retort with, “I’m a Vegetarian.” what is the tendency? To ask questions or make statements regarding vegetarianism, right? This is only natural and not an error in and of itself. But as a Christian I do believe there should be more intentionality with our conversations than mere temporal matters. What’s worse, is the response may signify that all the person answering is concerned with are these temporal matters.

I am going to make a slight detour and make some points on why I think this is an evangelistic endeavor. I promise it’s going to come right back.

If we as Christians are to be united and identified with Christ (Gal 3:27, 1 Cor 6:15, 2 Cor 5:17, Eph 2:6, Rom 7:4, etc) , who has ultimate authority (Matt 28:18); witnessing the gospel in both active (Matt 28:20, Acts 10:42, 2 Tim 4:2) and passive ways (1 Pet 2:11–12, 3:15–16, 2 Cor 6:3–10); teaching believers to obey everything he has commanded (Matt 28:20); living holy (set apart) lives for the glory and praise of God (Rom 15:6, 1 Pet 1:14–15); then how we respond to this and conduct ourselves within the occupations we have is paramount to our gospel witness.
Not everyone loves the job they have, not everyone seeks different employment, and neither of these is necessarily bad; but what does it communicate when all you hear from someone is how awful their job is? How much they desire a “better job”? A job that pays more/better? Even still, what do you think when someone sings nothing but praise for their job, bragging about the income and/or benefits of it? One sounds bitter and the other sounds arrogant. Neither, I would argue, are a Christian response (1 Cor 10:31).
God, no matter your employment, gave you the job (James 1:17, 1 Cor 4:7). You don’t deserve it, at all (Rom 2:1–3, 1 Cor 4:7). In fact he is your boss; not the supervisor, manager, owner, or whoever may be the authority over you (1 Pet 2:18, Eph 6:5, Titus 2:9, Matt 24:46, John 13:16) . They in fact also work for Jesus Christ (Rom 13:1, 1 Pet 2:18, Col 4:1, Eph 6:9, John 13:16), even if they have no clue. This should lead us to perform our jobs dutifully and joyfully to his glory (1 Cor 10:31, Col 3:17). If we have a job that brings us little to no pleasure, we should perform them with Christ-like humility until circumstances outside our control dictate a change. It communicates something the world has no idea how to parse; that this “great” or even “dead end” job has its end in magnifying the one who created everything.

Now back to the main point…

My identity is in Christ, therefore my response (in most every situation) should be “A Christian.” If I feel they are seeking a bit more specificity I’ll respond with something akin to, “I work in Landscaping for income.” or “I used to be a Climber, now I’m a Christian who likes to climb.” I admit it sounds odd, but it brings the conversation to places it may have taken more time to get to, or maybe even never at all. I love what I do, not because I like to be out in creation; not that my managers, coworkers, and owners are wonderful people; all these are true. I love what I do because through my employment I have ample opportunity to display God’s blessings of the gospel to a world lost amidst its own self destruction.
Please don’t misunderstand me, I haven’t always thought this way and still don’t respond accordingly every-time the question is posed, but with the intention to do so and the more I reflect on it, the more it becomes second nature. Practice makes perfect they say. What better thing for a Christian to do than practice magnifying the glory of God in Christ and his authority over every single aspect of our lives, including even your job that you despise/love, or a “throw away” conversation starter such as “What do you do?”

Christianity · Guest post · theology

The Spirit of Whoredom…

My good brother from church wrote a wonderful Facebook post that I thought needed more syndication. It’s from one of the most brutal and at the same time encouragingly wonderful books from the scriptures, Hosea. Being a man who has longed for marriage and a family for most all of my life, the book touches me deeply. To contemplate what Hosea is called to go through time and again in the relationship with his divinely appointed spouse is excruciatingly painful to read. Not to mention God comparing it to his own relationship with his people. However because of that comparison, it also contains some of the most often cited lines to defend the New Covenant’s scope towards salvation. For once we were not a people, and by God’s sovereign grace we are now called his people. I now share, unedited, my brother in Christ Cameron Hoehne’s wonderful insight from the book of Hosea.

    “My people inquire of a piece of wood, and their walking staff gives them oracles. For a spirit of whoredom has led them astray, and they have left their God to play the whore.”
Hosea 4:18

Hosea is one of my favorite Bible books. The whole story is full of heartbreak, betrayal, and teeth-clenched obedience. Hosea’s life itself served as a picture of our relationship with God, not only for himself and his timeline, but for millennia to come. The book is all about relationships, especially Israel’s with God.

Hosea married Gomer. Time and time again, this whore had left her husband for nights of debauchery and weeks of unbridled revelry, all for her own pleasure. I imagine a heartbroken prophet, learning to love a woman who doesn’t love him, knocking on the man’s door in the middle of the night, to retrieve his adulteress and carry her back to their home.

There must have been many a night where Hosea looked up at the stars – a vast emptiness dotted with mystery – and wondered why God would command his heart to break over and over, and over again. On the days when his wife was committed, perhaps they got along well, recalling their life stories around a night fire, or maybe she would ask Hosea what God’s voice sounds like. Maybe Hosea could muster up some bits of Hebrew to describe the experience, or maybe at the thought of it he fell silent.

Marriage is not about feelings. Relationships aren’t built on the shifting sands of heartfelt emotions, nor are they grown through idle conversation.

A few points can be drawn from Hosea’s story: for one, obedience to God trumps adultery. This is why the first response to finding your lover loving someone else shouldn’t be divorce. Imagine the pain Hosea felt knowing that he would never have a good wife to look after his home. But after the initial shockwave from his dreams tumbling down, he received the divine strength offered and pressed on toward the deepest pain a human can experience.

Secondly, God is sovereign. He commands Hosea to take a wife of whoredom, but why? Because God can see into the future, He knows the past intimately, and feels the sting of betrayal amplified beyond our comprehension. And He works tirelessly for His story to unfold, and chooses us before time to accomplish meaningful things to further His redemptive plan. While the pain is excruciating, Hosea moves onward. But, assuredly, not from the strength of his will. No man can obey without God’s work in His heart. God showed through Hosea the part we have played, and the inherited role we defer to when we stray from God.

And yet, God carries us home.

    Imagine the God of the universe – who made the heavens and the earth, who spoke you into existence, who is all-powerful and omnipresent, the One above all others – looking down to see a man bowing to a piece of a wood, inquiring of this makeshift divining rod his future, that it may be well.
These idols we create for ourselves, that we bow down to in full view of God, have turned our hearts away from the One who created all things, and we have played the whore. We seek out pleasures to worship rather than the One who made us to delight in Him.

Hosea’s heartbreak was only a glimpse of the pain God endures daily, from us bowing down to ourselves and the things we have made for ourselves. This alone should rend our hearts in two, causing us to repent and seek Him only.

Inquire of Yahweh instead, for Him to reveal the idols in your life, as I ask Him to do for me. Whether it is a longed-after relationship, a coveted career, knowledge itself, or a pile of currency. None of these things amount to God, the Originator, the Alpha and Omega.

May He lead us steadily through trials, to meet Him in glory, purified from dross, cleansed in His blood, sinless and blameless.

I long for this day.

Author – Cameron Hoehne