iLife - Week One: "iWork"

This week I am beginning a new sermon series entitled, iLife - living the life that you were meant to live.

As some of you may have figured out by now, I am a bit of an Apple nut.  And by Apple I mean the corporation, not the fruit.  I have an iPod, an iPhone, an iPad and a MacBook Pro, laptop.  I would like to have an iMac for my home computer but my wife said enough was enough for the moment.

Apple just announced the release of it's newest iPhone, which is already breaking pre-sale records.  More importantly, though, Apple released it's newest software update for all of it's devices in order to support the iCloud---an innovation that will change the way we listen to music, interact with one another, work and create...again.

There's something about the names of all of these new Apple innovations that we tend to gloss over because we get so enamored with their coolness.

They all start with "i"

What Apple tells us through the names of their products is that it's all about us.  It's all about what we want, what we desire, what we need... what we deserve.  But Apple didn't invent this concept, it just uses it to sell stuff and make money.  Lots of money.

Our culture has been telling us for quite some time that there is a life that we deserve to live---a life full of success, happiness, fulfillment and stuff.  And all of this sounds pretty good on the service, but it's what's underneath it all that really messes us up.

In order to have that life that we deserve we need to buy things, and in order to buy things we have to have money and in order to have money we have to be "successful" and in order to be "successful" we need to be ready to make some concessions.

Like not spending as much time with our families as we would like, going into debt, adding stress, neglecting our health, buying things we don't need...  Consider this the "fine print" to the iLife Terms of Agreement that we click "agree" to without reading.

But God has something else in mind, and that's the focus of this three-part series, which begins with "iWork."

What's the worst job you've ever had?  Mine was working for Mr. Davenport.  He was a guy who had a lawn care service, who took me on as an apprentice.  My parents paid me $5 a day to work with Mr. Davenport, who paid me nothing.  We started at 7:30 AM and mowed lawns all day long.  I pushed a lawn mower while Mr. Davenport rode around on his lawn tractor.  One day he disappeared on his lawn mower when we were mowing a two-acre yard on a golf course.  He told me to just keep mowing until he got back.  He was gone for three hours. I mowed the whole thing with that push mower.  I think he was down at the 19th hole the whole time.

One of the lies that our culture passes off as truth is that "you are what you do."  Seriously, what do you usually ask someone when you meet them for the first time?  "What do you do?"  Based on their answer we make determinations as to what kind of person they are, don't we?  Because we believe the lie, that we are what we "do."

But what if you hate your job?
What if you don't have a job?
What if you're retired?

Our culture warps us.  We spend our youth looking forward to doing something meaningful.  We spend our middle age trying to get ahead so we can retire.  We spend our old age reminiscing about when we were productive.

Oh, and in the United States of Getting Ahead we believe in the separation of Work & Faith.

So is this how God intended us to view work?  I don't think so.
Here's what I think...

When we work to the best of ability in whatever work we do, we show Jesus to the world. 

Read Thessalonians 3:6-15

This is THE most misinterpreted passage of scripture regarding work in the Bible--and mostly because of the verse that reads "those who don't work, shouldn't eat."

Here's a little background on what Paul was talking about:  First, the people to whom Paul addressed this letter, the Thessalonians, were Greek and in Greek culture if you didn't have a job, you were the lowest of the low.  BUT if you were poor and could somehow find a wealthy patron to foot your bills, that was okay.  So there were a whole bunch of people in this church in Thessalonica that thought it was okay to not work and to lean on their wealthy Christian brothers and sisters for patronage.  They used the excuse that Jesus was returning "any day" to justify why they didn't have a job.  Basically, they refused to work, and as a result people in the community were trashing them.

Paul is basically issuing a command to not let these kinds of people be a bad influence on your life.  He used the word "atatkos" a word that was most often used in a situation where an apprentice didn't show up for work and the parents of the apprentice were on the hook to pay the master for the time lost.  In this instance it refers to the difference between what is orderly and disorderly.

These were the kind of people who Paul says are busybodies rather than busy.  Work has lost it's value for them.  They used their faith as an excuse and as a result they did damage to the gospel with their disorderly behavior.

So what do we do with all of this?

First, Christians have to bring it at a different level.  For us there is no separation of work and faith.  Our "career" is to demonstrate the Gospel in every single thing that we do---to do our work "heartily" as Paul once wrote, "as if you were doing it for God himself."

Second, Christians need to realize that people are watching us.  If someone knows that you are a Christian and you behave poorly in your work, or are lazy and indolent that's the impression they have of Christians.  Dave Ramsey says "If you're going to put a fish on the back of it, you better drive it right."  He's referring to people who put Jesus fish on the back of their cars and then drive like a maniac.

Third, we need to realize that Opportunity is attracted to Excellence.  Even if you feel that you are doing something that you don't love---do it better than anyone else.  God will provide for you in unbelievable ways.

Fourth, do you work with such a level of passion that the competition steals you.  That kind of speaks for itself.

Fifth, in every single thing that you do, ask yourself if you are doing that as if you were doing it for Jesus.

Finally, you need remember that you are not what you "do," but what you "do" reflects who you are.

By now you might be asking yourself, "But what if I am unemployed?"
Even in the middle of that trial, are you doing to the best of your ability whatever work that you can do?  What do people say of you as they watch you struggle through unemployment?

"But what if I am retired?"
Just because you're retired doesn't mean that you no longer have anything to offer to your family, your community, your church and to the world.  Are you doing whatever work that you can do to the best of your ability?

"But what if I don't like my job?"
I've had employees who hated their jobs and it showed.  Rather than working hard and diligently and demonstrating Jesus with their efforts they almost always took another road.  It never ended well.  Remember, Opportunity is attracted to Excellence.

"But what if I can't work like I used to?"
Then play to your strengths.

You have to stop believing the lie that you are what you do.

When we work to the best of our ability in whatever work we do, we show Jesus to the world.

And in the end, that is our number one job: To KNOW Jesus and to SHOW Jesus.

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