sacred work

For years and years the church has—intentionally or not—given people the distinct impression that some things in life are sacred and some are not. And admittedly, the notion makes sense on some level. The idea that a person is doing something “more sacred” when it’s their job to lead the church or be a missionary seems on the surface to makes sense. How could this kind of work not be more spiritual than cleaning toilets or chopping wood? It doesn’t seem unreasonable that jobs of manual labor or working with ones hands be separated from jobs that involve dealing directly with spiritual matters.

 

However, this is a man-made distinction. Nowhere in the Bible do we find God making such a divide. Certainly God identifies specific roles that come with greater responsibility or judgment if abused, but we don’t find God saying, “Here is what a sacred task looks like and this one over here has no spiritual real implication.”

 

That’s just not how it works. The idea, rather, is that everything we do is a reflection of God. Every task we invest ourselves in is sacred, because we as image bearers—broken as we may be—are reflecting the image of the Creator. Our work is always sacred. As is our play and our rest. Everything we do is loaded with spiritual implications and loaded with sacredness. It is not less sacred to fix cars or build houses than it is to create art or raise children. All is sacred work.

 

That’s why I love passages like the one in Exodus 31. Here we find God identifying sacred work in places we would typically not think of as inherently spiritual. Certainly not work that needs to be Spirit-filled.

 

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Look, I have specifically chosen Bezalel son of Uri, grandson of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. I have filled him with the Spirit of God, giving him great wisdom, ability, and expertise in all kinds of crafts. He is a master craftsman, expert in working with gold, silver, and bronze. He is skilled in engraving and mounting gemstones and in carving wood. He is a master at every craft!        Exodus 31:1-5

 

Moses is receiving instructions on how to build the Tabernacle—the place where God’s presence will literally dwell among his people. And in the midst of instructions and dimensions and color schemes God says that he also has identified someone whom he has filled with the Spirit of God. Not so that he may teach or evangelize the nations or instruct the people on how to worship. He is Spirit-filled so that he can build stuff. A Spirit-filled craftsman who has, according to God, great wisdom and ability and expertise in the areas of building stuff. He is an artisan and an artist.

 

And it’s not just him. Look at the next verse:

 

And I have personally appointed Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, to be his assistant. Moreover, I have given special skill to all the gifted craftsmen so they can make all the things I have commanded you to make            Exodus 31:6

 

These are people whose sacred work involves wood, clay, stone, metal and fabric. They are not Bible teachers or missionaries. They are not clergy. They are simply gifted and skilled people whom God has filled and equipped to use their abilities in sacred work for God’s honor.

 

As soon as we accept Christ as Son and Savior we too are Spirit-filled. We too are called to sacred work; called with our giftedness and abilities. Whatever we have been gifted at doing, whatever we are skilled in, wherever God places us in life, it is a sacred work. It is work for the kingdom, to promote the Gospel.

 

… whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.     1 Corinthians 10:31

 

Whether a janitor or a business man, a street sweeper or a pastor, a farmer or a factory worker, whatever we do, it is sacred work.

 

***photo by Geri-Jean Blanchard***

 

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