Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. (1 Peter 2:11-12)
We’re in a series exploring five biblical principles for working in exile. Today, we come to our third principle, straight from Peter’s letter “to God’s elect, exiles” (1 Peter 1:1):
Principle #3: Christians are called to live “such good lives” that non-Christians have nothing credible to say against us.
Though he lived hundreds of years before Peter penned the words of today’s passage, Daniel (of lion’s den fame) offers a terrific case study of what this principle looks like in practice. Like you and me, Daniel worked in exile—specifically as an official inside the Babylonian government. And he modeled the goodness Peter describes in...
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
Last week, we saw the first of five biblical principles for working in exile—namely that a Christian’s default position should be to rush into dark workplaces, not retreat from them. This is in line with Jesus’s prayer in John 17:15-18 when he asked the Father to send his followers “into the world.”
But in the same breath, Jesus also asked the Father to “protect them from the evil one.” You see, while Jesus never intended for his followers to isolate themselves from the world, he has called us to insulate ourselves before going into our dark workplaces and communities.
How? Through study of God’s Word (see John 17:17) and Christian community. That’s what the writer of Hebrews is...
The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp. And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood. Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore. (Hebrews 13:11-13)
Chances are that your workplace feels increasingly “post-Christian.” The HR department is now encouraging employees to customize their gender pronouns; talk of religion is quietly discouraged; and your employer is making headlines for their support of pro-choice causes.
In the face of these trends, it’s natural to wonder whether you should quit your job and find a new role in a ministry or a business led by a fellow Christian—a workplace that is “better aligned with your values.”
God may be calling you to do that, but I seriously doubt it for two reasons.
First, Jesus himself worked in dark places. As we saw in today’s...
He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God….Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:3, 6-8)
Everything God does is intentional, and the timing of Jesus’s resurrection is no exception.
As pastor Skye Jethani explains in his book Futureville, the reason why Jesus rose from the dead on a Sunday has its origins in the creation account of Genesis 1. Historically, Christians have identified “Sunday as the first day of God’s creative work.” And just “like the creation account in Genesis, which began but did not end on Sunday, God’s...
“I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” “No,” they answered. He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. (John 21:3-6)
Today’s passage shows us “the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead” that first Easter Sunday (see John 21:14). Commenting on this scene, St. Augustine once wrote admiringly that after Jesus had “risen from the grave, after seeing the marks of His wounds, after receiving, by means of His breathing, the Holy Ghost, all at once [these...
Joseph of Arimathea…was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took [Jesus’] body away. He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen….At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb…they laid Jesus there. (John 19:38-42)
Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea had a lot in common. Both were members of the Sanhedrin—the religious governing body that had just played a role in crucifying Jesus (see Mark 14:53-65). Both men, most scholars agree, were likely very wealthy. And both men were secret followers of Jesus…up until Good Friday, that is.
Something about Jesus’s death compelled these two men to go public with their faith,...
Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane…and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” (Matthew 26:36-38)
Peter and “the two sons of Zebedee” (James and John) had a broad vocation to follow Jesus. But on the night before their rabbi’s crucifixion, they were given a more specific job: Simply to stay awake while Jesus went away to pray.
As they were all walking into the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus “began to be sorrowful and troubled.” He was “overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.”
What’s going on here? In his phenomenal sermon The Dark Garden, Tim Keller explained Jesus’s sorrow this way: “Jesus…got all of his power…and his love from his relationship with the Father, and therefore...as he was walking to [Gethsemane], he would have started...
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:28-33)
I began this series by asking you two questions:
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:5-8)
We’re in a four-week series exploring the work beneath our work—in other words, the ultimate why underneath what we do.
Now, if you are subscribed to my devotionals, part of your motivation for your work is undoubtedly to leverage your vocation for the glory of God and the good of others. But if you find yourself consistently overworking—if you find that you’re unable to rest and “turn your brain off” at home—it’s worth asking whether there are deeper motivations for your work that are less than God-honoring.
Then the eyes of [Adam and Eve] were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. (Genesis 3:7)
Last week, I asked you this: What is the work beneath your work? In other words, why are you working so hard?
Over the next three weeks, we’ll explore three of the most common answers to that question. And while this will be far from an exhaustive list, I’m confident it will be a helpful one.
Here’s the first: Performance, or using your work to earn the respect, love, and acceptance of others.
For the first few years of my career, this was the primary work beneath my work. I wasn’t working primarily for the glory of God and the good of others. I was working to impress you.
And so I would not-so-subtly name-drop big brands I had worked for and impressive people I knew—not to facilitate great conversation, but to make you think I had the most impressive LinkedIn profile in the room.