Pastor Tim Keller challenged a crowd of New York City professionals Sunday to rethink how they view work and to debunk the notion that spiritual vocations matter more to God than secular work.
Keller, founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, explained why all work matters to God and why God matters to work in a lecture held at the Hunter College auditorium for members of the churchs vocation groups. The lecture is the fourth entry in an eight-part lecture series organized by the churchs Center for Faith and Work, which represents professionals from at least 15 industry sectors, including the arts, business and healthcare.
In making his case that all Christians are priests in their respective fields, Keller contrasted the approach to work by the medieval church and the radical reformation with that of the 16th century protestant reformer Martin Luther.
The Medieval Church took a triumphalism approach to society that attempted to dominate and make all things Christian where as those in the Radical Reformation encouraged withdrawal from society, which they believed to be Satans world. Both approaches, according to Keller, had a tendency to look down on the work out in the world and only consider work in the church as Gods work.
He explained that Luthers theology offered a middle way and a biblical approach to work, in which there was no dividing Christian work between spiritual estate and the temporal estate.
He says, hey, do not say only people inside the church are doing Gods work. Oh no. We are all priests. Therefore, every Christian is doing Gods work, said Keller, citing Luthers reference to the passage in 1 Peter 2:9.
Keller said that God could easily give us His gifts without our help but it is through our works that He wishes to involve, train and include us as part of the family. Quoting Luther, he went on to point out that although mans work is childs performance, they are the masks of God by which He works.
God doesnt have to do it that way but He is. Hes loving you through other peoples work. He goes as far as to say that the baker and the farmer in work is God in disguise. These are the masks of God. God is loving you and distributing His gifts through work, said Keller.
The New York pastor also put the value of work in perspective by looking at Jesus occupation.
There is no menial work. Jesus came not as a philosopher, not as a general. He came as a carpenter, said Keller. The Bible says that all works matter to God. All works. Not just works that make money.
Christians, meanwhile, should always reflect upon how God matters to their work, added Keller.
He cautioned against serving idols in work, whether it be profit in business or self-expression in art, instead of serving God. Belief in the Gospel, according to Keller, should impact ones motivation of work, work ethic and treatment of others around them in work. He urged listeners to continually gather together and through talks and prayer, accumulate wisdom on how God can have a greater impact in their field.
You are in a very big city, New York. It is an exhausting city. Its a very hard place to work. Its a secular city so its very hard to bring your values onto the way you work, said Keller. Therefore, because of the power of the Gospel, I call you to think like a prophet, serve like a priest, and plan like a king. It means getting together to think, think, how does the preeminence of God reign in my field. It means serving each other and serving people around you in the city.
The Gospel & Culture series seeks to prepare the congregation for effective engagement in the culture of NYC. Organized by the churchs Center for Faith and Work, the lecture series will be held one Sunday every month and will culminate with the first Faith & Work conference this fall. Christian Post