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Summary: An overview of the Christian history of attitudes to work, the need for a renewed sense of call at work, and a renewed sense of mission

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Introduction

This is above all meant to be a time of encouragement – in my time as a Christian I have heard very few talks on How God sees our work. Mark Green in his book ‘Thank God it’s Monday’ did a survey and found that “over 50% of Christians have never heard a sermon on work, and over 70% have never heard a theology of work, and only 26% have been asked to consider developing a ministry in the workplace. So above all I pray that this evening is helpful – The structure of the evening is a combination of sharing, and testimony – Nick, Amy & Ralph will be sharing

There are 3 main areas that I want us to cover this evening

 History of attitudes to work

 Testimony 1 - Nick

 Renewing a sense of call

 Testimony 2 - Ralph

 Renewing a sense of mission

 Testimony 3 - Amy

 Q&A -

PART 1 - History of attitudes to work

Work does not just mean – 9-5 – it can include all housework – running kids around – cleaning the car

The reason I want to look a the history of attitudes to work is because it helpfully reveals both truth and error, and also because as much as we don’t want to admit it – our own views on work our shaped by history. I will start with looking at the Greek and Roman Culture

 1 - Greek & Roman Culture – Work is evil

In these cultures work was viewed as something for the underlings. We have slaves – slaves are here to do the work for us – so we can be free to develop ourselves – work is unworthy and beneath us. There was also a belief “spirit good”, “matter bad” – what was most important was the spiritual world, and their culture had a low view of the physical world.

 2 - Medieval church – Sacred work good – secular work bad

During the period of the medieval church was to divide work into two great categories – the sacred and the secular. There was the religious, the monastic and the convent, aimed at perfection devoted to contemplation, and then those outside who kept the wheels of the world running at the cost of condemning their souls to a 2nd best spiritual life. You can see how actually this view is not so dis-similar from the Greco Roman view of spirit good matter bad – but here it was sacred good secular bad.

 3 - Reformation/Rennaissance – The Dignity of Work

Then came the Renaissance – where the craftsman and the artist was exalted. Individual creation was lifted up and praised. But this was extended in the Reformation where they added the concept of “a calling” for all, that God called people to tasks in the world. All work was done for the glory of God – but it assumed that living a godly life was valued supremely, and work was always to the service of God and others. Actually the reformers really turned things on their head a bit and

 4 - Enlightenment – Pursuit of human gain

Then came the Enlightenment which is really where the idea of the good “Protestant work ethic” came from. Service of God was perverted into a creed of personal success:

“Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealty and wise


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