This coming Sunday evening we start something different at Woody Road. We are beginning a four week topical series on the theme of work. If I’m honest I’m inherently suspicious of topical series and have tended to resist calls for them- God did not, after all, inspire the Bible to be written topically. So I am convinced that the main way to teach the Bible is in consecutive expositions forcing the book of the Bible to set our agenda rather than our own preferences. However, it is natural for people to ask the question- “What does the Bible say about work/family/money etc?” because they want to please the Lord in that particular area. So my plan is to put an annual practical series into our timetable. And this year it is work.
Why look at work? Two main reasons stand out. Firstly, it is what we tend to spent most of our time doing- and I’m assuming that the student working on their studies and the mother caring for their children (to give two examples of non-paid employment) are included in this definition. Given that we spend a lot of time on work it makes sense to work out how we please the Lord with all that time. And secondly, I am aware that there has always been a danger at Woody Road that we are seen to present “Christian work” as the ideal and “secular work” as relatively insignificant. There are reasons for that- I think the large number of Christian organisations in Oxford skews a congregation in that direction. But I am convinced it is unhelpful and wrong- all work is done as an expression of our creation in the image of God and can be done for the glory of Christ. It seems to me that heading into pastoral or missionary service should not really be seen as a sign of a more passionate spirituality (“If you’re a keen Christian you will be a pastor/missionary/work for a Christian organization”) so much as a difference in gifts (“God has given me the ability to teach the Bible/witness to people at work/serve people through my profession etc.) The main issue is that we see the the glory of Christ and love for people as central to all we do.
Work is present right from the beginning and the sermon series will follow through the Biblical pattern of creation- which gives work dignity- and fall- which makes work hard. Then we’ll look at a Christian approach to work in the New Testament. I’m particularly looking forward to preaching on our work as God’s calling to us from 1 Cor 7- which has been my new thought on the subject in recent months. We want this to be very practical though- so as well as the sermons there will be interviews with different people on the subject in the service and discussion in homegroups. I’m also hoping to post a couple of book reviews in the next week.
Our vision statement for the year is this- “whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” Our hope is that this series will help us to include our work in the “whatever”…