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I know people who live an inviting life. I’m not using the word “inviting” in the ordinary sense here. If we say something is inviting, we mean it’s attractive or desirable. The lives of the people I’m thinking of are generally inviting in this way. But I’m using “inviting” in a more active sense. The people I have in mind are always inviting people into their lives: Come have dinner with us! Join us at the concert! Sit for a while and let me know what’s going on in your life!
Today, I want to add a practical suggestion to what I wrote yesterday. It’s really quite simple. If you want to discover where your work falls on the worship-idolatry scale, invite others to share in this discernment process with you.
Last week, we began to reflect on how our work can be worship. Two verses from Revelation 22 led us to this reflection. In Revelation 22:8, John fell down to worship the angel who had revealed the glorious vision of the future to him. But the angel rebuked John, rejecting his worship and telling him to “Worship God!” (22:9). Analogously, we can sometimes be so devoted to our work that we could be said to worship work. Yet, Scripture teaches us that work can be a way for us to worship God. Work is worship. Yes, sometimes. Work is idolatry. Yes, sometimes. Work is a mix of the two. Yes, sometimes.
So how can we know the difference?
Like many Christians, I grew up believing that work mattered. Through work I could earn money to support my family and myself. With what I earned at work I could also contribute to God’s work in the world, which happened through churches and mission organizations. The workplace also had value because it provided a primary context for me to share my faith with others. So, work mattered, but mainly because it enabled good things to happen in addition to and apart from the work itself: feeding my family, supporting God’s work, sharing my faith with colleagues, etc.
As I said yesterday, it is certainly tempting for some of us to give ourselves completely to our work, to make work the Number 1 priority for our lives, thus displacing God. But, I don’t want to imply that our work is somehow necessarily opposed to our worship. In fact, if we pay attention to all that Scripture says about work and worship, we discover that one of the major ways we can worship God is through our work.
In yesterday’s devotion we focused on the command of the angel to John, “Worship God!” (22:9). I pointed out that the biblical verb translated here as “worship” means, literally, to bow down in submission, as before a human sovereign. From a biblical point of view, when we worship God truly, we offer ourselves to God completely. At the core, worship is submitting our whole lives to God.
In the final verses of Revelation, we observe a scene that reminds us to give ourselves completely to God and God alone. It comes after the vision given to John, the writer of Revelation, had ended. He was so moved by what he had seen that John “fell down to worship at the feet of the angel” who had shown the vision to him (22:8). But the angel rebuked John, saying, “Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your fellow prophets and with all who keep the words of this scroll. Worship God!” (22:9).
Last week, we began to reflect on the astounding truth of Revelation 22:5, namely, that in the new heaven and new earth, we will reign alongside the Lord. As the text says of those who serve the Lord in the New Jerusalem, “And they will reign for ever and ever.”
In yesterday’s Life for Leaders devotion, we began to reflect on the surprising truth of Revelation 22:5. In the New Jerusalem, the people of God, those who are servants of the Lord, will also reign with him forever and ever. According to John’s inspired vision, we will be, not only servants of God (22:3), but also co-regents with God (22:5).
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