Summary: A sermon on how work in the world can be viewed as a form of worship of God.
We are going to look through a lot of scriptures today, so I am not going to have you open your Bibles to any one particular scripture. Today, I want to open up with a question. How many of you remember your very first job that you earned a paycheck? For me, my first job, I hate to mention, was back in the early 1970s. I got a job as an usher for General Cinema Corporation in Florissant, MO. It was kind of a cool job because I got to wear a nice blue sport coat with a little bow tie. There were a lot of perks that came with the job. One of the perks was that I got to eat as much popcorn as I wanted to eat. My favorite day was when I was assigned the Saturday morning shift where I would have to come in early and I would go up in the private room where they had this huge popcorn machine and all day long I would make this popcorn and fill these huge bags. I got to just shove as much in my mouth as I could at that particular time. There were a lot of perks to being an usher, including the fact that I got to watch several movies over and over again. I think I watched Chitty Chitty Bang Bang about 12 times at least. Along with the perks, you had some of the downside. The downside was that I only made 75 cents an hour. The other downside was that my boss was more like a drill sergeant instead of a boss. He was very tough on me. I didn’t like him and he didn’t like me. Back then in the early 70s, we tended to wear our hair a little bit longer and he told me one day to get a haircut because he thought I looked kind of sloppy. I said I’m not going to get a haircut and he said you’re fired and I said I’m out of here. It made me realize something as I looked back on that time. He was just trying to do his job. He was just trying to make us look nice and sharp and crisp. What I demonstrated by me quitting was that I valued my haircut more than I valued that job. That is what we are going to talk about today: the idea of valuing your work.
As you know, we have been talking about our four core values of worship, discipleship, outreach, and community. Today, we are swinging back around and talking about the value of worship. Some of you are thinking where does the value of work fit in. Hopefully you could see as you watched that video that, in some sense, when we do our jobs with excellence, with integrity, with professionalism, and with honesty, our work can actually become a form of worship. When we think about work, most of us can relate to work. Most of us have had at least one job and a lot of you have a job right now. In fact, some of you work a lot of hours, 50, 60, or possibly even 70 hours a week depending on the season. Many of you, including myself, have had a number of jobs. The statistics are that between the ages of 18 and 36 every person has at least nine jobs. That is one job every two years. When I look back on my period between 18 and 36, I think I had about a dozen jobs so I skew the average up a little bit. Most of us can relate to that. We switch a lot of jobs especially early in life. Work is important to us. In fact, it is a very big, hot-button issue in politics this year. In the news you keep seeing the unemployment is up to 7.9%. They keep talking about the unemployment. About 9 million people are supposedly out of work. So jobs are important to us. Work is important to us.
The question you want to ask yourself today is why is it that we work? When you think about it, a lot of people work for a lot of different reasons. They work because they are trying to gain some sort of sense of significance or some sort of sense of fulfillment. Some are actually working because they want to gain some sense of power. Many of us would just say we work because we want to get a paycheck. The whole phrase “I owe, I owe, so off to work I go”. We are going to earn that paycheck. I imagine if we were to take a survey about why people work, I really doubt if anybody would say I work because I want to care for God’s creation. I want to be a good steward for what God has given us. When you think about it that was God’s original purpose for work. We find that simply by going all the way back to the book of Genesis. The second chapter of Genesis actually lays out our job description. It says “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” That is our job description from day one. Work at that particular time was meant to be a sense of joy, a sense of satisfaction because we had the awesome responsibility and privilege to be able to care for God’s creation. But as you know, something went wrong. Sin entered into the equation. Because sin entered into the equation, work became a thing of obligation. It became toilsome. It became like a sweatshop. It became unbearable. We see that in chapter 3 where God said to Adam “Cursed is the ground because of you.” This is because of his sin. “Through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food.” Sin entered in and began to manifest itself not only in the lives of the people but also into the work environment.