I spent a week at church camp every summer when I was a kid. Some of the most formative God-encounters of my young faith happened in the old, rusted-out airplane hangar that served as the campground sanctuary.
Hartford City, Indiana was hardly the urban center its name implies. The water table in this rural, Midwestern farming community contained high levels of sulfur, adding a scent of rotten eggs to the already smelly teenager campers. It was a spiritual experience.
Every night of our church camp had a theme. Night one was usually a salvation message, night two discipleship, but the climax of the week almost always crescendoed with “called into ministry” night.
The camp evangelist would preach a powerful message on what it meant to be called into full-time ministry. Then he would ask “who here feels like God is calling them?” About 10% of the kids would raise their hands. The evangelist would invite the newly called down front where the other 90% of us would gather around and lay our hands on them. Then the evangelist would passionately pray over those who were called and we would all head back to our seats, some called and the rest of us just destined for secular work.
This was the exact terminology we used. I remember friends asking me in the snack shop after service, “hey Coop, did you get the call?” No, I would say, I’m “just” going into a secular career. No one was intentionally leading us astray in these deeply spiritual moments, but the unfortunate theological byproduct was an assumed separation between what is sacred and what is secular. To this day, many of us unwittingly carry this bad work theology into our everyday jobs.
But the sacred nature of work is not just for pastors and those employed by a church, it is intended for all Christians! Colossians reveals to us a Gospel that doesn’t only redeem our “spiritual lives,” but a Gospel that is actively redeeming all things (1:19-20), including the work of our hands.
“For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.”
Here’s something to ponder: the word “vocation,” the term we use to describe what someone does for a living, actually comes from the Latin word vocare, which translates “calling.” It’s the same word Paul uses to describe work inside the church and work out in the marketplace.
Your work, whether you’re a teacher, a software engineer, a banker, a builder, an attorney (yes, even an attorney!), an entrepreneur, a stay-at-home mom, blue-collar, white-collar, esteemed or humble – if you’re a brain surgeon or you sweep the floors at a local fast-food restaurant – reconciled to Christ, your work is sacred.
Let me say that again.
Your. Work. Is. Sacred.
The Gospel does away with the concept of “secular work.” Jesus is redeeming all things, including your day job.
PRAYER: Jesus, help me to see my job the way you do. Reveal to me the resurrected value of my work, whatever it may be. Whether the world sees my job as important or menial, help me to embrace the sacred calling I carry each day. Let your beautiful Gospel redeem and resurrect the work of my hands.