Reflections on Work from Eugene Peterson

One of the books I am currently reading is called Leap Over a Wall: Earthy Spirituality for Everyday Christians.  It’s a great book written by Eugene Peterson (he wrote the Message translation of the Bible.) This book, a collection of reflective stories on the life of David is rocking my world right now.  This morning’s reading was on work…the spirituality of our everyday work.  I so needed to be reminded that there is no separation in God’s eyes between my ministry and my job. I have for the past several months been telling folks that Strings Attached is my called ministry, my job at Home Instead is what I do to help pay the bills. A client of Home Instead I was visiting with a couple of weeks ago reminded me that my work there was also in line with my ministry– developing relationships to strengthen the kingdom.  Then this reading came along and it all clicked for me.  I can’t include all the wonder in this chapter, I encourage you to pick up a copy and read it.

Eugene says:

Twenty-five years later, as a pastor,, I found myself dealing with men and women who didn’t know how to act in the place of worship.  When they entered the sanctuary, they left at least fifty percent of their vocabulary outside. They talked differently. They stiffened, ever so slightly. Not all of them, true, but enough to let me know that I had my work cut out for me, the work of speaking the word of God to them in the language of their working lives. For how were they going to hear and understand the gospel of Jesus Christ if they heard it only in “church language”? How were they ever going to get a feel for the Bethlehem manger, the Galilean fishing boats, Peter’s curses, and Mary’s tears, to say nothing of the Golgotha cross, if they got it only behind stained glass to organ accompaniment? And how were they ever going to realize that the adrenaline rush following Tuesday’s business deal, the nausea of spousal betrayal on Wednesday, and the interminable boredom of Friday afternoon were the actual stuff in which Christ was working their salvation if they supposed that the primary place for hearing and understanding God’s word was the sanctuary? The sanctuary is essential, but it isn’t the primary location for the day-by-day cultivation and practice of spirituality, the Holy Spirit shaping the Christ-life in us.

I’m still engaged in that work, saying and showing–insisting!–that the world of work is the primary context for spirituality–for experiencing God, for obeying Jesus, for receiving the Spirit…

Work derives from and represents the sovereign God, who expresses his sovereignty as a worker: kingwork. Sovereigns work to bring order out of chaos; guard and fight for the sanctity of people and things; deliver victims from injustice and misfortune and wretchedness; grant pardon to the condemned and the damned; heal sickness; by their very presence bring dignity and honor to people and land. God’s sovereignty isn’t abstract–it’s a working sovereignty and is expressed in work. All of our work is intended as an extension of and participation in that sovereignty.

Did you get that last part?

All of our work is intended as an extension of and participation in that sovereignty.

Yeah, I am certain Eugene wrote that just for me today….did he write it for you, too?


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