Monday, December 29, 2008

Don't Waste Your Life ... on the job!

Some time ago our associate Pastor preached a fantastic sermon, (maybe one of his best), on the first verses of Romans 12. The message was passionate and memorable. At least I remembered to heed his advice to read John Piper's Don't Waste Your Life. I would encourage you to get a copy of this book or read it online.

There are a lot of quote-worthy treats in DWYL. Some day I hope to talk about his "wartime lifestyle" that he describes on page 111. This time, though, I want to quote from the discussion in Chapter 8, "Making Much of Christ From 8 to 5". Perhaps some day Christ will open the door for the Bonhams to serve as full-time missionaries. For now, though, DWYL is a welcome reminder to make much of Christ where we've been strategically placed at this present time! But how?
Therefore, the burning question for most Christians should be: How can my life count for the glory of God in my secular vocation? I am assuming from all that has been said in this book so far that the aim of life is the same, whether in a secular vocation or in a church or mission vocation. Our aim is to joyfully magnify Christ—to make him look great by all we do. Boasting only in the cross, our aim is to enjoy making much of him by the way we work. The question is, How? The Bible points to at least six answers.
I won't quote the whole chapter, but I will list these six answers:
1. We can make much of God in our secular job through the fellowship
that we enjoy with him throughout the day in all our

2. We make much of Christ in our secular work by the joyful,
trusting, God-exalting design of our creativity and industry.

3. We make much of Christ in our secular work when it confirms
and enhances the portrait of Christ’s glory that people hear in the
spoken Gospel.

4. We make much of Christ in our secular work by earning
enough money to keep us from depending on others, while
focusing on the helpfulness of our work rather than financial

5. We make much of Christ in our secular work by earning
money with the desire to use our money to make others glad in

6. We make much of Christ in our secular work by treating the
web of relationships it creates as a gift of God to be loved by
sharing the Gospel and by practical deeds of help.
For me the most striking was #3. The way we serve Christ and make Him look good at our jobs "confirms and enhances the portrait of Christ’s glory that people hear in the spoken Gospel." Working hard and with integrity makes the Gospel "play better". Piper explains:
There is no point in overstating the case for the value of secular work. It is not the Gospel. By itself, it does not save anyone. In fact, with no spoken words about Jesus Christ, our secular work will not awaken wonder for the glory of Christ. That is why the New Testament modestly calls our work an adornment of the Gospel. In addressing slaves, Paul says they are “to be wellpleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior” (Titus 2:9-10). The point here is not to endorse slavery (which Paul undermined more indirectly by calling the converted slave, Onesimus, “no longer . . . a slave but a beloved brother,” Philemon 16), but to show that the way we do our work “adorns” the doctrine of God.

In other words, our work is not the beautiful woman, but the necklace. The beautiful woman is the Gospel—“the doctrine of God our Savior.” So one crucial meaning of our secular work is that the way we do it will increase or decrease the attractiveness of the Gospel we profess before unbelievers. Of course, the great assumption is that they know we are Christians. The whole point of the text breaks down if there is nothing for our work to “adorn.” Thinking that our work will glorify God when people do not know we are Christians is like admiring an effective ad on TV that never mentions the product. People may be impressed but won’t know what to buy.
For me, this is both an admonishment to work hard at work and with the highest integrity. It also is a reminder to open my mouth in boldness for Christ! I hate those TV ads that are so good or funny but never tell you the product to buy! That's not good marketing, that's just a waste! I don't want my hard work to be for nothing! I want people to know for Whom I work so hard, to make much of Christ!

DWYL is a good little book! I admit it reads a little slow (philisophical?) at the beginning as Piper reminisces about how God got him to where he's at now. It's well worth the effort, though, and has the potential to be life-changing for many!

As we approach the end of 2008, Don't Waste Your 2009!

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Here is my testimony: mike