False Stories of Work: What’s Faith Got to Do with It?

Reprinted from the Salt & Light Australia Daily Devotional.

Part three of a series.

Now no shrub had yet appeared on the earth and no plant had yet sprung up, for the Lord God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no one to work the ground…
The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it…
Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals.

Genesis 2:5, 15 & 19-20

This is part three of seven devotions dealing with some false stories about work we might hear about, or even unconsciously absorb; and the better story for work that we read in the Bible and is commended through the Gospel.

We have already done false story 1. My focus is on my leisure time, not work; and 2. Work is my source of meaning and purpose. Today we look at whether religion or faith should be in the workplace.

Every now and then this false story really hits the headlines; and last week was a case in point in NSW, when seven rugby league players refused to wear a kit celebrating LGBQTI pride “for religious and cultural” reasons. They ended up not playing, and did not even watch the game out of the club’s fears for their safety.

My cousin was among many calling for the sacking of those players for their “offensive actions” which would further cause stigmatization for others.

On Saturday I heard Sophie Renton from social researcher McCrindle explain that the meaning of “acceptance” for most Australians has changed from “allowing others to hold opinions different to my own,” to “advocating on behalf of those who are different.” In other words, to show I am an inclusive person I have to advocate on behalf of those who hold different views to my own (ironically, while they do not have to demonstrate such understanding of my views). Further, 33% of Australians believe that we should ban the expression of religious views in public spaces.

And it is not just the workplace which struggles to deal with religious views, if you were sitting in most churches, the lack of sermons or upfront reference to work might lead you to think that the Bible and faith have nothing to do with work anyway. Perhaps it is best just to be quiet and go under the radar.

However, this is a false story because it is impossible for us to go to work and attempt to leave our faith at the door. Our religion or faith is part of who we are, and should influence our decisions and behaviors in the workplace.

The reading from Genesis tells a better story for our work. There was no-one to work the ground, verse 5 tells us, so human beings were made to work with God, to work the earth and take care of God’s good creation (verse 15).

I love the image of God inviting us to name the animals, a beautiful picture of us working with God. He brings each animal to see what the human will call it (verses 19-20).

So, faith always has a place in the workplace, because we are meant to work with God. We can anticipate that there will sometimes be clashes, but we should also focus on the positives: Jesus is sovereign over our workplaces, and wants to work with us in reconciling everything on earth and in heaven to God (Colossians 1:15-20). We have the God of the cosmos in our side, Jesus’ example and the Spirit prompting us.

Think It Through

  • How much do you see this false story lived out around you? Do you sometimes live out that false story in your own life?
  • What difference does it make knowing that God wants to work with you in your workplace? Where do you see evidence that he is already at work in your workplace?

Dear God,
Sometimes the tension between our faith and our workplace is very real.
Sometimes we are asked to do things which challenge the moral or truth claims of our faith.
Help us to be discerning and wise in our response: “as wise as serpents and innocent as doves” as Jesus told us (Matthew 10:16).
Help us also to recognize that God cares about our work, and is present in our workplace.
Help us to go to work today with a desire to work with God.

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Kara Martin is the author of Workship: How to Use Your Work to Worship God, and Workship 2: How to Flourish at Work. She is also a lecturer with Mary Andrews College. Kara has worked in media and communications, human resources, business analysis and policy development roles, in a variety of organizations, and as a consultant. Kara has a particular passion for integrating our Christian faith and work, and helping churches connect with the workers in their congregations. She is currently conducting research on how to effectively equip workplace Christians to integrate their faith and work.

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