Integrating faith with work among the society comes as a response to the sluggish attitude and sloppy work among Christians especially during the 21st century when work has become so important in terms of domestic consumption and national growth (Kansiime, 2015). A few people view work as though it was something accomplished for individual advantages. To them, when and how it is accomplished is not an inquiry identified with the feeling of the Divine or higher requesting.
A society has a variety of different origin as well as destination. They have different values in life and to them the “why” and “how” matter. John Polkinghorne asserts that ‘the ability of understanding to outrun explanations is intimately connected with the religious concept of faith’ (Polkinghome, 2004). Christians need ideas and values that can unite them to improve the traditional work ethic. The ideas of re-energizing and remolding are very important when focusing on changing attitudes and improving the work ethic that can change community focus. The understanding of biblical teaching and the integration of faith and work is aims at re-energizing the spirit of work, reviving and renewing the Christian work ethic.
Work is our daily life routine, in this regard; it may mean that if work has lost value, human life has lost value as well. In the creation story, work was considered good and was delegated to human beings by God as an earthly responsibility to serve and worship him (Genesis 1:28, 2:15). For that reason, it is true to say that people survive on the work of their hands. This is God’s design for human survival and as the means by which we serve him (Plams.128:2 and Proverbs.13:4). Work is divine, however, Christians have not discovered satisfaction in work as God intended. Human beings must be aware of this fact and guard against poor workmanship. Work that is well done attracts such appreciation that reveals God’s approval, like that one presented by Abel. When God was in the act of creation, he appreciated his own work and approved each day’s work. “And God saw that it was good” (Gen.1:11, 12, 19, 21, 25, and 31). The fall of humankind debased the work esteem and brought down its quality. Christians, who have gotten to scriptural educating, are required to reclaim their work from the corruption gained at the fall
Work cuts across all departments of human life, and Jesus used a number of parables to teach about work in the Kingdom of God. He used parables like the shrewd manager (Lukek.16), the gardener and the fig tree (Luke.13:6-9), and the lost sheep (Luke.15:3-7). All of these parables depicted different types of work and their significance in the Kingdom gospel. They contributed to the concept of subsistence and professional work. “Humans experience the fullness of life that God intended because we are being what God created us to be. In particular for our purpose. People are able to fulfil their callings of glorifying God by working and supporting themselves and their families with the fruit of that work. Supporting themselves and their families on a daily basis is subsistence. God instituted “subsistence work” that was to provide just enough to sustain human life. It is through work that sustainability on daily basis was mandated to humankind. It required physical involvement. Genesis refers to this kind of work saying, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to till it and keep it.” (Gen.2:15). If God had not wanted human beings to work, he would have set everything ready without any need of instructing them to “tend and watch” (Gen.2:15). Here work becomes a bridge of relationship. By working, human beings recognize the goodness of God and it brings joy. When people have eaten and filled their stomachs, it becomes easy for them to thank God for that provision. The hungry see themselves as unfortunate and do not find it easy to believe that they have a God who cares for them. Of course, since he is a God who has created human beings in his image and likeness, human beings have the capacity to emulate the Father and thank him even when they are not happy in life.
Workmanship skills are equally important that God gave human beings that make them professionals. Human beings live in an environment that involves discoveries, creativity or innovations influenced by science and technology. Before the modern world began to engage in work that utilizes tools and equipment, the ancient world already was active in making and shaping tools for use in their work. These tools made human beings technicians and engineers. However, with rudimentary knowledge, people had implements made for their daily work. The making and shaping of tools shows how human beings had concern for improving their work output. It shows how people regarded work as an essential part of life. Human beings became innovative, industrious, and creative by use of tools. These tools become important to making life worth living and meaningful. Biblically speaking, God gives the wisdom of becoming a craftsperson. He gave Bezalel and Oholiab the art and wisdom of craftsmanship. “See, I have called by name Bezalel… and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship” (Exodus.31:1-3). All people in one way or the other, have been blessed with skills purposely to help them do work but there are many who neglect these gifts, denying themselves participation and service to God by not utilizing any of them in their work.
The parable of the lost sheep provides an example of a responsible worker (Luke 15:3-7). The shepherd had one hundred sheep under his care. He was responsible for their well-being and return to the master with all one hundred. When he realized that one was missing, he acted like any responsible worker and went in the deep of the bush to recover the lost sheep. When he found it, he rejoiced and carried it home on his shoulders (Luke 15:5). At the end of the parable, the owner rejoiced for the recovery of the animal, but inside he was also rejoicing for having made a successful effort to recover what was lost. Many people in the course of their work do not mind the losses they cause to business. They do not even make efforts to recover those. Many people while engaged in public office think only about their salaries, their retirement benefits and sometimes their health insurance. Because of being dissatisfied with their pay, they begin pilfering from public funds and using other public facilities to meet their needs. They do not mind what the public loses or even says because they are simply hired. The civil service today is under fire because so many of the public officials are working on a hired basis. Corruption is at the center of debates in the parliaments. Unfortunately, the suspects are not willing to admit to wrongdoing because it would involve shame and possibly long term punishments. Many of them are Christians who confront their religious leaders for criticizing their corrupt life. They become irresponsible workers because they are hired and the work is not theirs. They do not mind about the outcome. Such kind of behavior gives an understanding of the difference between calling and employment.
Christians as people redeemed from the power of sin, should also be in position to redeem their work from the influence of sin. God redeemed us so we could do his holy work. Unfortunately, most of our work has been marred with displeasure, disappointments, and corruption. The Bible’s teachings have not transformed their work ethic and attitudes. Families and schools use work as punishment for wrongdoing. At schools, bad mannered students are canned and given manual work as punishment of their actions. At home, parents do the same. Children grow up believing that work is the punishment for wrong doers, which results in their hating it. They fail to see that work results in benefits to the one doing it. According to Haselbarth, “…work is a blessing of creation, not a punishment of sin as many ill-informed Christians think.” (Haselbarth, 2004). Because of the wrong attitudes, the value that comes from regarding work as part of human joy has become pain and resentment. Many have the impression that work is a means to deter wrong action because of this pattern of the culture.
This attitude has created a strong foundation to ignore all the delight that goes with work and an inability to see its value. Christians’ work and administration to God have declined in light of the fact that they have an alternate point of view and do not give it its due respect. Individuals have seen work as normal and common through which their own finishes are satisfied. This could be valid for Christians since they realize that what they call secular does not have a place with God. The implication is that sin debased the joy that individuals would have encountered at work. As far back as the fall of man, work has turned into the focal point of accomplishing individual objectives. Sin keeps on being an incredible power in the life of devotees yet calls for more prominent trust in the changing work of the Holy Spirit. The Christian’s reaction thusly ought to portray a comprehension of biblical teaching about work anyway much it has been marred with displeasure, disappointments and corruption (Kansiime, 2015). Their faith and Bible teaching has not transformed their work ethic and attitudes. Christians and their leaders are all responsible for the teaching, preaching, and living the gospel according to the cultural mandate (Genesis 1 and 2), and the Great Commission (Mathew.28:19-20).
The biblical teaching focuses on Christian faith and rooting of their work in that faith. That is why teaching based on observed work behavior among the Christians, should be referenced in order to change negative work attitudes, and poor work ethics. As a Christian there are two principal ways in which the faith teachers or any other Christian ministry can be evaluated: by the fruits in peoples’ lives and according to the truth of Scriptures. The best way to improve the Christian work ethic and attitudes is to be emphasized on the biblical teaching to initiate the understanding that work is part of our faith in God, based on a teaching tool that can academically follow a methodology in the teaching process among church institutions and influence church leaders (O’Callaghan, 2017). We are all responsible to teach the faith we have received to their families and communities where we live. Based on the fall, it becomes important to all Christians to learn that they have a responsibility to obey the command of the Great Commission. The degree of our involvement and understanding of the Scriptures reflects our calling and participation in God’s creative work. Since work is a mandate from God, and fulfilled in Jesus Christ, every response to work should have an objective and positive influence to the rest of the world.
- Haselbarth, H. (2004). Christian Ethics in the African Context. Nigeria: uzima. Retrieved from Christian Ethics in African Context.
- Kansiime, E. K. (2015). Integrating Faith with Work A Ministry Transformational Model. Geneva: Globethics.
- O’Callaghan, P. (2017, April 4). Retrieved from Cultural challenges to faith: a reflection on the dynamics of modernity: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/23753234.2017.1287281
- Polkinghome, J. (2004). Science Christian Belief: Theological Reflections of a Bottom-Down Thinker. SPCK.