Work and the Worship of God
For the Singapore worker, the notion that our work serves as a form of worship to God might seem laughable. A recent report by Mercer found that employee satisfaction in Singapore has declined over the past three years, bucking global trends. Our direct experiences with colleagues and employers would only serve to affirm this and other surveys which place the Singapore worker below our regional and international counterparts in employee and workplace satisfaction. Indeed, our daily work is tainted by sin and marred by a deep-seated sense of estrangement and alienation (Gen. 3:17-19).
Yet, Christians possess the ability to radically reshape the manner in which we exercise our faith and glorify God through our work.
First, with our work oriented towards the Audience of One, we may find rest from our constant struggle to seek acknowledgement from our colleagues and employers. This is not to trivialise the role and work of affirmation, but to recalibrate and recover the source through which we may find true affirmation. As Christians, we are called to glorify and worship God in all spheres of our lives (1 Cor. 10:31). This frees us to focus on work which is right and good, knowing that we are God's "workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them" (Eph. 2:10).
Second, with seemingly trivial tasks such as eating and drinking possessing the potent capacity to glorify God, then there is no menial work. Tim Keller observes that "Jesus came not as a philosopher, not as a general. He came as a carpenter. The Bible says that all works matter to God.” We are freed from the ceaseless pursuit of status and prestige to rest in the assurance that even the smallest and simplest task, whether inside or outside the church, saturated with integrity, faithfulness, and justness in service to God and man, pleases and glorifies our heavenly Father (Eph. 6:5-9; Col. 3:23).
Finally, just as God sovereignly directs us to particular roles and tasks in life, John Calvin observed that it is also God who fills each role with a dignity rooted in his Personhood. Indeed, it is only in our ultimate rest that may we find ultimate worship. As Christians, we are not called primarily to something or somewhere, but to Someone. While our work might be imperfect and in many instances fraught with injustice, we find our full assurance and acceptance in the complete work of Christ. His perfect labour enables us to please and glorify God (1 Pet 2:5–9). For the Christian worker, Jesus' invitation is never closer, truer, or sweeter:
"Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Mat. 11:28–30)
Ho Zhi Wei