When the LORD delivered Zion from captivity , we were like those who dream. Our mouths were filled with laughter, and our tongues rang with singing. Even the heathen recognized and confessed, "The LORD has done great things for them." The LORD has indeed done great things for us, so we rejoice. Renew our deliverance, O LORD , as the streams in the south are renewed in the spring rain. Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goes out weeping as he scatters his precious seed, shall return with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him. (Psalm 126)
Within the Church today it is easy to find teaching and counsel about how to cope with the workplace, and how to bear witness for Christ on the job. These teachings usually miss the key point. What we need most is not coping, but deliverance.
Consider the Israelites in Egypt, laboring as slaves under the Pharoahs' oppression. Which is more important -- that they "cope with" their situation , or that they cry out to God for salvation?
Consider Samson, captured and blinded by the Philistines, day in and day out grinding grain in the prison. Which is more important -- that Samson be a "good witness" by doing a "good job"? Or that he call upon the Lord day and night to return his strength to him just once more?
These are not just stray examples --they are exactly representative of our current situation within the working world today. For just as Pharaoh enslaved the Israelites, so Satan the "god of this world" has enslaved us. Just as the Israelites' labor perpetuated their own bondage, just so our labor perpetuates an equally brutal world system. Just as the Philistines removed Samson from leadership, blinded him, and filled his days with hard, empty labor, so the Devil has done to us by locking us up under a world system based entirely on shallow, materialistic values.
The Devil holds us in a vise grip, as it were between two jaws. When he squeezes the handles we feel the pressure from two sides:
Our hard work provides little inward nourishment or satisfaction. Instead, it chews us up and spits us out. As we race to reach consumers before the competition does, so our work consumes us. It wrings us dry mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. The pressure annihilates every particle of contemplativeness and inner quietness. The frantic competition turns us into adrenaline junkies. After work, what do we have left for family? All we can offer them is the blood money we have earned by selling ourselves. There is no time and energy left to sit down with our children on an extended basis, to teach them and share deep interests together (instead, we pay others to do that). We have some meals together, we go to church together, we share vacations and special events together -- but that's about it. The level of life-sharing is extremely shallow, and unavoidably so.
First, we and our families are pushed into insatiable consumer mode. We may be able to resist the pressure for ourselves, but what can we say to our children when all of their friends and acquaintances buy this and wear that? Second, as fat profits are dangled before our eyes we are lured into producing more and more goods for the consumer feeding frenzy. Many of us would like to think that our work "benefits humanity". Unfortunately, this is much less the case than we would like to believe. For the most part, our jobs are not geared towards meeting people's needs , but rather towards pandering to the whims of those who hold the fattest pocketbooks. We either make toys for the wealthy, or we make tools to help them accumulate even more wealth.
Why do we work so hard? So that our families live in "nice" neighborhoods, attend "nice" schools, and enjoy a "nice" lifestyle. In other words, we coddle ourselves, we insulate ourselves from the real work that God has called us to, which is to go out to the poor, the wretched, the have-nots, the homeless, and to invite them in to Jesus' marriage feast (Luke 14:16-24) .
We pride ourselves on our concern for the poor, on our giving to charity. But our "charity" consists of the ashes which remain after we have largely burned ourselves out physically and financially. Concern for the poor is our last priority. We give only token amounts, especially of our time and energy.
Over time, I have reconciled
myself to living and working under this world's system. However,
I will never reconcile myself to the system itself, despite what contemporary
Christian teaching suggests. Though I live in this world, I shall
never be of it. This world system is a prison designed
by Satan. Fortunately the Bible is full of prison experiences, and
God always delivers those who cry out to Him and depend on Him. "The
LORD watches over all who fear Him, over those who hope in
His mercy. He shall deliver their souls from death, and keep them
alive in famine. Our souls wait for the LORD, for He is our help
and our shield. Our hearts shall rejoice in Him, because we
have trusted in His holy name. Have mercy upon us O LORD, for
You are our only hope."
Prayer: Renew our deliverance, O LORD , as the streams in the south are renewed in the spring rain.
Copyright © 2001 CrossPollen
Last Revised: October 4, 2001
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