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“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
Whom or what do you serve? What is the person or thing that has the strongest influence in the decisions of your life? This is a tough introspective question that every Christian must answer, and definitely everyone called to the marketplace. The reality is that this contemplation gets right to the concept of motives. It exposes our heart’s thoughts… why we choose the jobs we do, the neighborhoods we live in, the purchases we make, every decision of life. When I decided to identify as a marketplace minister 11 years ago, this question became my first test.
As Christians, we often struggle with this battle for control of our lives. Do we follow God’s plan for us, or do we take destiny in our own hands and allow God to play a role here and there? This struggle is often complex because of the “unknowns” of life that make us nervous. In theory and desire, a majority of Christians would clearly state that they want God’s plan for them. However, the reality of following God’s plan is that it often leads to more questions that often go unanswered until after we have committed by obeying his voice. Therefore sometimes we choose self-determination over God’s plan, not out of a hatred for God’s plan, but out of fear. Here’s how the thoughts play in our mind in real time: “If God chooses my job, will it yield enough money for me to pay bills and provide for my family?” and “What do I do if the path God chooses fails to produce enough resources for me to be responsible in life?” We desire to see God’s plan for our lives fulfilled, however we are uncomfortable with the number of unknowns that come with that plan. At the end of the day, we know that there is a thin line between faith and foolish decision-making, and we are scared to fail.
In Luke 16:13, Jesus challenged the people of his time to determine whom they would serve, claiming that divided loyalties could not exist. The choice was between serving God and serving money (which by the way is a result of human work and effort, or basically self-service). What we choose to obey determines who or what our master is. This series combats the notion that Christians live in the dichotomy of the sacred vs. the secular. Therefore God is not only Sovereign in our sacred spaces, but also in every aspect of our lives. What we wear, where we work, and where we live are all connected in God’s plan for us. So, serving God is really characterized by obeying his intention and direction in each of these areas.
What does this have to do with work and faith integration? Our willingness to obey God, especially in allowing him to choose our employment, is directly connected to our confidence in his ability to provide for us. When God is our master, we allow him to plant us where he needs us in the marketplace, regardless of whether this employment pays us what we feel we need to survive or even thrive. We can only confidently do this when we realize that as our Master, God provides, not our jobs or our spouses, or our parents. He may use these outlets as arms of his provision, however he could bring provision in many ways. Each of us must therefore determine whom we will serve. Will we obey God, or will we try our best to determine and control our own fate.
God, we desire to please you in everything we do. Help us to overcome the fear of failure and the stress of the unknown. Give us obedient spirits that we may be able to serve you exclusively as the master of our lives. And thank you in advance for the grace to learn how to rest in you. We acknowledge you in all things. In Jesus name, Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary: The Shrewd Manager and the Prodigal Son (Luke 16:1-13; 15:11-32)
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