One Living Hope

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How Then Shall We Work? (Matthew 5:13-16)

By Alvin Varughese

Intro:

–  Transition into the business world

  • Loss of identity, purpose, passion, motivation

– Work has become a means to an end, rather than an overflow of how we are to live

  • This is a result of losing my true calling

Prop:

–          Rediscovering our highest calling as a disciple of Jesus is the key to God glorifying and personally satisfying work

Context of Passage:

–          Sermon on the Mount – Jesus is teaching Kingdom values to his disciples

–          Jesus is specifically addressing his disciples

  • The key to understanding the Sermon on the Mount is that Jesus also invites those who are not disciples to become disciples and live according to the values of God’s Kingdom

–          The implication of this teaching is that Jesus is calling both his disciples and potential disciples to decision – “How then will you live?

Text:

–          Matthew 5:13-16

  • This metaphor follows the Beatitudes, which describe the character of the people of the Kingdom of God
    • Focuses on love and humility
    • Ideals of spirituality and compassion
  • Jesus is teaching his disciples of who they are and what they are to do
    • He gives them tangible pictures that they can relate to:
      • Salt – food, sustenance enhanced by flavor
      • Light – clarity, direction, guiding the way
      • In a way, he is exhorting his followers to their potential value for the Kingdom of God
  • Remember, Jesus later refers to himself as the Light of the World
    • Jesus is inviting his disciples to way of life and ministry that he himself embodied and declared would be the way the world would know him
      • Jesus is inviting his followers to take hold of their calling, which in due time unfolds their identity, purpose, and direction

–          So what is Man’s Calling?

  1. I.       We are Called to be God Followers – Imago Dei

–          Our primary and highest calling is to fall more deeply in love with Jesus!

  • When God created Adam and Eve, he made them to know Him and enjoy Him forever
    • God made them to have deep, intimate fellowship with Him
    • He created them intimately and personally
    • He provided everything for them
    • He even gave them light, pleasant, enjoyable work!

–          We are made in the image of God – Image Dei

  • This is what JI Packer (professor at Regent College) says about Image Dei:
    • Image means representative likeness—which tells us at once that we should be reflecting, at our creaturely level, what Genesis 1 shows God is and does. Therefore we should always act with resourceful rationality and wise love, making and executing praiseworthy plans just as God did in creation. He generated value by producing what was truly good; so should we. We should be showing love and goodwill toward all other persons, as God did when he blessed Adam and Eve (1:28). And in fellowship with God, we should directly honor and obey him by the way we manage and care for that bit of the created order that he gives us to look after, according to his dominion mandate (26, 28).”
  • In the Fall, we did not lose the image of God as some may say
    • Formally, we still bear the image of God
      • That is, we still have in us the abilities that, if rightly harnessed, would achieve a fully righteous, Godlike life – and so the unique dignity of each human being must still be recognized and respected, as a gesture of honor to our maker
      • But we have lost the image substantially, and it takes God’s gracious gift of our union with Christ to restore it fully
        • Through this gift we share his resurrection life in regeneration, sanctification, and glorification

–          This is who and what we made for:

  • To know God and be known by Him and;
  • To love God and be loved by Him
    • All because He knows and loves us first

–          Normally, at the end of a message or a service is when you hear the challenge to leave your sin follow Jesus and accept him as your Lord and Savior

  • But I want to invite you to know God and understand who you were created to be right now!
    • Our lives, including our work, can not have the proper meaning God intended unless we are His and He is ours

* So, this is our first and highest calling: to be a God follower with His image restored in us through the power of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ

  1. II.    We are Called to be Salt and Light – Work

–          As a follower of God, we are called to be disciples of Christ

  • Jesus challenged his disciples to be salt and light

–          Salt and Light

  • Jesus is calling his followers back to Creation
    • God showed Adam and Even how to live: honor God and bless others
  • Jesus is reissuing the Creation Mandate – After all, he is introducing the values of the Kingdom of God
  • Remember what Jesus said was the greatest commandment:
    • Matthew 22:36-40: “’Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
    • In both the OT and NT, the people of God are called back to Creation
      • OT – Israel: Light to the nations
      • NT – Church: Salt and Light

–          Dick Keyes (Director of L’Abri Fellowship in Southborough, Massachusetts), in his book Seeing Through Cynicism: A Reconsideration of the Power of Suspicion, offers very helpful insight into what it means for Christians to be salt and light to the culture within which they dwell:

  • “Salt acts as flavoring and also as a preservative. Light shows the ideal of Christlikeness and also illuminates and exposes what is in the darkness…Saltless salt is diluted and therefore resonant with its surroundings, losing its taste. A light under a basket has the opposite problem, retreating into a subculture and not allowing the light of Christ to shine out”
    • God wanted Adam and Eve to reflect Him in the way they lived and worked, and so in turn the world would reflect God in life, work culture, and society
    • Jesus challenges his Church to live Gospel-centered in all these same areas of life
  • The common theme is to be set apart = holy

–          Jesus wants his Church to be Salt and Light

  • Salt – Character: holy, lover of God, lover of good, transformed
  • Light – Testimony: compassionate, generous, justice and mercy
    • The key to being and doing this: The Gospel!
      • Always, Always, Always – Its Always the Gospel
  • When we are completely surrendered to God and wholly committed to the Gospel, we become Salt and Light
    • The Gospel transforms us, but also preserves us: Salt
    • The Gospel overflows and the Holy Spirit dwells in us, and God shines out of us: Light

–          Do you bring the Gospel with you to work?

  • In our sinfulness, we always bring our junk and our baggage with us, even to work
    • But when we’ve surrendered to God, He deals with our junk, and gives us the Gospel
  • We need to constantly give up the junk and be fed by the Gospel
    • This is the only way we can be salt and light and bring the Gospel to our work

–          Note: Too Salty or Too Bright?

  • Ponder this thought that Dick Keyes writes in his same book Seeing Through Cynicism: A Reconsideration of the Power of Suspicion:
    • “Sociologists point out that these are the two options for any minority group in a majority culture. I live near Boston, Massachusetts, where Irish and Italian immigrants have assimilated and now nearly run the place politically. On the other hand, Chinese immigrants have built Chinatown. There are perfectly legitimate reasons for an ethnic minority to go in either of these directions. But Jesus warned the church against both assimilation and tribalism. His church must live as salt and light, and in doing that it must defy both of those enormous social forces. It was meant to be ‘in the world’ but not ‘belong to the world’ (Jn. 17:11, 16)” (206).
  • We can only remain Salt and Light by being transformed by the Gospel and not conforming to the World

* So, this is our second calling: to be Salt and Light, to be transformed by the Gospel on the inside and to live out the Gospel on the outside

III. We are Called to be Excellent – Job/Career

–          As a God follower, as Jesus’ disciples, we are called different vocations

  • As we’ve been studying Joseph, we see God used a business man in an political, social, and cultural empire
  • Every God follower is called to bring salt and light to their workplace
    • We work so hard to equip ourselves for a job or career, but Jesus challenges us to live as if salt and light are in our DNA!
  • God calls His people to every vocation and field – In our sinful world, God wants men and women of integrity everywhere

–          You know the saying: “Working hard or hardly working?”

  • Or, “Look busy, do nothing!”
    • There is that temptation to slack, cheat, and steal in terms of work
  • However, if we are being transformed by the Gospel, we realize that we are ultimately working for God
    • Listen to what pastor and author Charles M. Garriott says in his book Work Excellence: A Biblical Perspective of Work:
  • “There is no true excellence in work if the gospel is absent. The gospel not only brings us to a saving relationship with the Lord, but also transforms our lives, including our work and careers” (page 112)
  • Our work needs to be more than a responsibility or an obsession
    • Work needs to be an outpouring of our love for and obedience towards our Savior

–          In other parts of Scripture, we are called to excellence:

  • Colossians 3:23
    • “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”
  • Proverbs 22:29
    • “Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men.”
  • We need to ask ourselves some hard questions:
    • 1. What kind of quality and craftsmanship do you put into your work?
    • 2. Would God be pleased with how you do your job?
    • 3. Would He be pleased with the end product or service?
    • 4. Are you proud of the way you do your job?

–          This includes being a student!

  • Being a student is the calling God has given you at this time
    • We should honor God with our studies because we are studying and learning for His glory
    • We should honor our institutions and professors by being diligent to go to class, to be attentive, to not cheat, and to be stewards of the knowledge we gather by using it for God’s glory and for His Kingdom
  • The attitudes and ethics you have as a student will carry over into your jobs and careers
    • Let our lives as students be saturated with the Gospel, and let it carry through into our work

*So as a God follower, called to be Salt and Light to the world, we are ultimately called to do our work and everything we do with excellence

Conclusion:

–          Our calling as a disciple of Christ brings the ultimate joy and satisfaction to our work

  • Everything we do is for the glory of God, for His Sovereign purpose
    • Our work is a means of grace to transform us more into our calling, a God-follower
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