Punching Out For God

I work in ministry. That’s the shorthand for “my work on this earth will never be finished so long as I’m called to work here.” If you work in ministry then you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you’re a Christian, then technically you should feel like this as well. Our work here is never done, no matter where you are, what you do, or who you boss around.

There’s something I’d like to point out about the statement “I work in ministry.” Word choice is very important here. A simple change of prepositions renders a completely different interpretation of just what one does each day. For instance, if you replaced the word “in” with “at” (and stuck in an “a” for good looks), your statement would read “I work at a ministry.” Now, tell me that doesn’t ring a little dissonant in your heart. You might as well say “My job is at a place where they do things that they think God wants them to do.” It reeks of discontentment, detachment, and what’s another ‘D’ word… inDifference. But to say “I work in ministry” implicates that you have invested and immersed yourself in the work that needs to be done. It communicates an attitude of dedication, commitment, and responsibility to the tasks laid before you. And if you find yourself in the former state of mind – using “at” instead of “in” – then try switching it up. Remind yourself of the mission and your part in it. Remember that you’re in a battle, and that you can be a hero, just by altering your prepositional tendencies.

Working in ministry is sort of like being on call. Whenever you finally manage to wrap up the day’s pressing responsibilities you end up going home with a vague sense that your work isn’t done yet – that it’s still, somehow, unfinished. And to the cynic, the realist, the workaholic, and the Christian… it is. But I have a nagging feeling that we take this too far. Maybe we take ministry too seriously in general. If you go home at night feeling guilty about all that you’ve left unfinished, and stressed out about all that you have before you, then something is wrong. Of all the work environments, the atmosphere of a ministry should be the most gracious and understanding of all because, in reality, those involved have agreed to take on a level of responsibility that surpasses earthly measurement. It goes beyond task lists, time tracking applications, and project management software. It stretches into the realm of the impossible because we all know our work will never be “complete.” For every person reached, there are millions more that have yet to hear the message we work so hard to impart.

This is an eternal perspective. Whether your in ministry, at ministry, or a Christian working a 9 to 5, if you think that if you work enough hours and get enough done that you’re almost finished, you need wake up. Check out Ecclesiastes 3 and you’ll see what I’m talking about. God has already instituted His blanket contingency plan for our uselessness and the vanity of our work. What is and what will be, has already been, and God has already done what needs to be done. Nothing we can do will add or subtract from that.

So, what’s the point? You’ll find that in Ecclesiastes 3:12…

I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil – this is God’s gift to man.

So do yourself a favor. Work hard, go above and beyond, and work with a sense of urgency. I guarantee that you’ll get more pleasure out of your work than if you only put the in the required amount. But at the end of the day, CLOCK OUT! Go home, do good, enjoy the food, the drink, the family, the dog, and whatever else God has given you a passion for – God’s work is accomplished in those things as well. And when your boss calls you to do something, tell him the same thing – Clock out!

You Want Me To Love My Wife?

30 seconds ago I was working on a different post. Then I got a slap in the face when I went to the home page of BibleGateway.com to look for a verse for that other post. Today’s verse:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Eph. 5:25)

It’s simplicity and poignancy stunned me.

Now, I don’t think I’ve been particularly guilty of not loving my wife, at least not in recent memory (though she might need to confirm that). Nonetheless, the first four words of this verse pack a potent punch that cannot, and must not, be ignored. It’s a simple command to Love Your Wives. If I were a pastor I would walk to the podium and say “HUSBANDS! LOVE. YOUR. WIVES.” and then leave. Because what else needs to be said? It doesn’t say “Husbands, hassle your wives.” or “Husbands, abuse, ignore, neglect, betray, lie to, yell at, and annoy your wives.” It also does not say “Husbands, love yourselves.” or “Husbands, love someone else’s wife.”

Paul uses four simple words to convey what is, in my lowly opinion, one of the most profound and influential commands in the Bible. It’s a fundamental building block not only for the family, but for the church. And when the family and the church are healthy and grounded in the love of Christ (the metaphorical groom), the world that surrounds us stands will become healthier as a result.

The verses following clarify the command a bit more as Paul continues to describe both wives and the body of Christ using each to describe the other. He paints a picture of the church, and essentially the wife, as being cared for by Christ so that she may be washed in the Word – having a radiant presence, and exsiting without stain, wrinkle, blemish, or blame. And while all of this remains up to the husband to ensure, it is done by obeying one simple task. Love. Your. Wife.

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