Monthly Archives: January 2015

Connecting God and Work

How much do we connect our work with God?  In a recent seminar I attended on the subject of living out our faith in all aspects of life, including work, most of the people in my small group discussion of 12 said that they never thought of their work as having anything to do with God or their faith.

Our increasingly secular culture would like to keep God and faith confined to Sundays and inside church buildings.  But that has never been God’s plan. He created us in his image and likeness and put us in the garden of creation to work and take care of it.   St. Francis de Sales said it is error to banish the devout life from work.  The Second Vatican Council said, “This split between the faith which many profess and their daily lives deserves to be counted as one of the more serious errors of our age.”  In commenting on this condition, St. John Paul II said, “A faith that does not affect a person’s culture is a faith not fully embraced, not entirely thought out, not faithfully lived.”

I always remember the response by a legal secretary in our company when she was being counseled about her poor performance in serving the attorneys assigned to her. “I don’t serve anyone but God,” she indignantly declared as she angrily reacted to her job being described as “serving” her assigned attorneys. She was obviously confused about what serving God entailed — that we serve God when we faithfully serve the people and responsibilities in our work.

As Christians who have accepted God’s offer to dwell in us, we serve God and take care of his creation when we bring his presence into our work, seeking to bring his love, truth and excellence to our jobs and the people and circumstances of our workplaces.

James Hunter, in his book, To Change the World, says that the “great commission” has long been interpreted geographically in terms of sending missionaries to faraway places.  But the great commission can also be interpreted in terms of the church going into all realms of social structure, including skilled and unskilled labor, the crafts, engineering, commerce, art, law, architecture, teaching, health care, volunteer service, family life, etc.  He says, “When the church does not send people out to these realms and when it does not provide the theologies that make sense of work and engagement, the church fails to fulfill the charge to “go into all the world.”

We serve God and take care of his creation when we do our jobs to the best of our ability no matter how significant or insignificant we may view them.  We are acting in God’s plan for us when we bring his presence, truth, love and excellence into the performance of our jobs.  You can read 50 real life stories about how this happens in Hope for the Workplace—Christ in You.

Passing on the Good News

Are we passing on the Good News to the next generation, particularly our children and grandchildren? Psalm 71:18 says, “Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come.”

As parents, we have a profound duty both to instruct and to witness to the reality of God, his plan for creation, his son, Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit so that the next generation might know God, experience his presence and understand his purpose for their lives.

In today’s world, many parents may no longer be experiencing God’s presence in their own lives, so it may be difficult for them to pass on much to their children. Even if parents believe in God and are practicing Christians, they often leave this instruction up to the church in the form of Catholic schools, CCD and Sunday school. While the church does indeed have a role, parents still have the primary responsibility.

I know of many Christian families who do indeed fulfill this responsibility in a variety of ways — reading stories from a Children’s Bible; praying together at meals, the beginning of the day or at bedtime; establishing family traditions during Christmas and Easter, and otherwise nurturing faith and knowledge of God. Just as important is the personal example parents can provide to their children. While I never made a show of it, I never hesitated in letting my children see me in my personal prayer time as they came down stairs before breakfast. More important was for them to see my wife and me treat each other with love and respect, acknowledge our mistakes, seek forgiveness when we messed up, and let our actions generally reflect love, truth and service. While we didn’t always fulfill these objectives, we tried.

Today, our children are adults with families and children of their own. We are blessed to see how they are passing on their love of the Lord and the importance they place on his presence in their lives. As grandparents, we now have the opportunity to let our words and conduct be a subtle witness to our grandchildren – even yielding to their favorite form of communication, texting.

In a culture and time when traditional Christian values seem under attack on so many fronts, what better gift can we provide than to let the next generation see through our lives that God is real, that we can have a personal relationship with him, and that the Holy Spirit empowers us to bring his presence to the people and circumstances of our lives — all for the purpose of bringing about his kingdom and will “on earth as it is in heaven.”

Do We Trust God Like Joseph?

Three times God speaks to Joseph through an angel in a dream.  The first time was to tell him to take Mary as his wife after he had decided to divorce her quietly because she was pregnant.  The second time was to flea to Egypt to escape Herod’s efforts to kill the child Jesus.  The third time was to return to Israel when it was safe.  “Get up, and take the child and his mother to Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are now dead.” Matthew 2:20

The Bible does not reveal many details, so we don’t know the time periods involved or all of the circumstances.  Whatever the time, perhaps years, Joseph’s response to the sequence of events exhibited great trust and confidence in God.  He accepts an explanation for Mary’s pregnancy that defies all human experience. Then he takes his wife and new baby to a foreign land in reliance on a warning in a dream.

We see the faithfulness of God to Joseph in his multiple words, signs and the evolving circumstances.  The angel’s message about Mary giving birth to a son, who was to be a “Savior” and “The Messiah,” was subsequently confirmed by some unknown shepherds who report that angels told them the same thing. (Luke 2:11)

By the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth recognizes Mary as “the mother of my Lord.” (Luke 1:43)  Further confirmation comes through the words of Simeon and Anna during the presentation of Jesus in the Temple. (Luke 2:2-38) Then God directs three kingly men from foreign lands to find Jesus, Mary and Joseph and give them gifts that probably sustained them in their flight to Egypt. (Matthew 2:1-12)

Finally, Joseph receives one more message that it is now safe for them to return to Israel.  We see trust and faithfulness in Joseph in his willingness to act on the words he had received and in his submission to the circumstances.

What is our level of trust and confidence in God when he gives us that gentle nudge or whispers in our ear?  Do we hear him when he speaks through others?  Do we see his faithfulness and desire for us in the circumstances of our lives?  Lord, let me trust in you like Joseph.

He Came for All People

Do you believe that Jesus came for all the people you encounter daily in your lives? The angel told the shepherds, “I bring you good news and great joy that will be for all people.” (Luke 2:10)

The “good news” was not just for the shepherds or just the Jewish people, but for all people. All people included the unbelieving and pagan world of the Roman and Greek cultures at the time. It included people who later became Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu. It includes the atheists of our day. Whether they know it or not, Jesus is everyone’s savior.

For us, “everyone” includes the check-out clerk in the grocery store, the telephone solicitor who we hang up on, the person at work who is difficult to get along with, the person asking for money outside the metro station, the person who talks during church services or the children who can’t sit still. “Everyone” includes those who think different politically than we do and even those who wish to do us harm.

Lord, when I see people you put in my life, let me look upon them with the understanding that you came for them just as you came for me. It doesn’t matter who they are, what their religion, race, position or financial status is. Your offer of salvation and new life is available to them. Let me use the opportunity to introduce them to you first through my conduct and second by my word, as you give me the opportunity. John’s Gospel tells us that all who accept you, Lord Jesus, and believe on your name will become sons of God. (John 1:12)

As we move to the end of the Christmas season and begin a new year, we might pause to consider this message of the angel that could easily be overlooked.