Curriculum Vitae

“And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him.” (Colossians 3:17)

Just because someone doesn’t feel the push to go into ministry doesn’t make their vocation any less important to the Lord. As Jesus was a carpenter prior to his emergence into society-at-large  as a rabbi, we’d do well to reflect on our position in the workforce and the world, whatever it may be.

“And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers.” (Acts 18:1)

Our best work is done…

Finish that sentence. The verse above refers to Paul. Think about other figures in the Bible (namely most, if not all, though I haven’t checked) who held down gigs that were other than standing in a pulpit proclaiming the Word. There was Stephen, called upon to fill a role as a waiter (Acts 6). We have Lydia, a “seller of purple” (Acts 16:14) and then there are the various blue-collar workers the comprise Christ’s rabbinic entourage (references throughout the opening chapters of the gospels). Point is, the “ministry” is what you do.

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:10)

As you may know, curriculum vitae is like a résumé but more so. They’re typically sent in for higher-order academic positions. Know, though, that it’s Latin, literally, for “the course of one’s life”. The road our lives take may wind in and out of any number of jobs, side jobs, careers or otherwise and while none of those positions define us, God would have us learn things about Him and about life that we would learn no other way.

In the twentieth chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus talks about “the kingdom of Heaven” (verse 1) in terms of hiring and day labor. While all of the applicants get work and all of them work for a “penny” (the minimum-est of wages, I might add), Jesus sews up the parable with the counterintuitive “many be called, but few chosen. (20:16)” In the chapter, a couple things stand out, namely the notion that anyone serving the Lord is on his timetable and in his employ. The idea of working for profit is introduced, but we’ll talk about that in a moment. As Christ is a storyteller par excellence, one can glean so much from the simple ways in which he weaves together the ingredients to his parables. Implied throughout the story is this notion of non-judgment upon those who haven’t been serving the Lord as long as others. Yes, the vineyard metaphor most-likely pertains to the Church—as in church work—but Jesus considers the whole world to be the factory floor for his operation. So this means that we are always working for him whether we realize it or not.

Saving for retirement

“Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called. Art thou called being a servant? care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather.” (1 Corinthians 7:21-22)

So, what Paul is saying here is to stay true to one’s gifts as given by God. This doesn’t mean that one’s career or vocation can’t change but that any lateral movement in the place one finds oneself must be done at the leading of the Holy Spirit. Moving on because someone wants more money or more perks is not the highest order to which one should aspire. Climbing a ladder doesn’t necessarily fill the will of God if that ladder doesn’t reach the right place. Contentment is worth more than all the money in the world. I love Paul’s little instruction there: “care not for it”. In other words, don’t let a less-than-desirable job oppress you or define you or squeeze God’s joy out of your heart. You can do so much for Him wherever you’re at. A paycheck is merely a bonus.

And if you do feel called to the ministry, more power to you (see 1 Timothy 3:1).

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Superorganism

“For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh.” (Romans 9:3)

Colony Collapse

What does it take to attain to a level of love for our brothers and sisters in Christ that we’re willing to give up even our own salvation so that others may themselves come to the Christ that we know? One of the things I think we struggle with—subconsciously or otherwise—is this attitude that we must merely put up with certain individuals until we can either not have to speak to them again or at least excuse ourselves from the room. This coolness is the exact opposite of the fervent love that Paul expressed in the verse up top.

“And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.” (1 Corinthians 12:26)

“And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost.” (Luke 15:9)

So, we (the Body of Christ) are not technically a superorganism. The Western honeybee colony is a little more heartless and mechanical than the Church. There are, however, some things to be learned from the inclusiveness to be found in the lowly beehive. Things like teamwork and selflessness and things done according to an order and a pattern (see 1 Corinthians 14:40). Above, when Paul says “all the members suffer with it”, he’s describing a closeness that Christ envisioned, desired (desires) and indeed died to provide for His Body. And when it’s all we can do to darken the door of a building on a Sunday morning, maybe join a Bible study group mid-week and then do the bulk of our interaction and fellowship through social media, I think we’re missing the point of what Christ came to give us. The Body of Christ is supposed to be the most tightly-knit, welcoming, and loving group of people the world has ever seen. In contrast to that, the superorganism certainly helps itself but individuality is nowhere to be found.

“And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street that was before the water gate;” (Nehemiah 8:1a)

Cross pollination

The thing about individuality is that God gives it. And He gives it more the closer you endeavor to get to Him (see Psalm 134; James 4:8, Luke 21:19, et al.). But watch out. If you’re for whatever reason looking to exclude yourself to the neglect of whatever and whomever the Lord is calling to influence, pray for, and in a word, love, watch out. One’s individuality should never come at the expense of the love and attention we’re meant to bestow on those, our brothers and sisters in Christ, who maybe aren’t where you’re at. After a while, the metaphor of a superorganism breaks down with reference to the Body of Christ. We’re One (see John 17:21), but that doesn’t mean we’re hiding in and among every one else, essentially doing our own thing. There’s a balance.

“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons (and daughters) of God.” (Romans 8:14)

In closing, all I can say is pray for balance. Some people need more love and attention and help than others. And it’s hard to know when to turn off the tap and let them rely on God. It’s certainly not a smart idea to block the Lord from dealing with someone directly—even if it means letting them suffer. God will give you the wisdom to discern when and where and how long and all that (see James 1:5). All you have to do is ask. Like honey, God is always sweet. Unlike sterile worker bees, however, He has no sting. The church shouldn’t either.

“The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.” (1 Corinthians 10:16-17)