The first is in 2 Chronicles 34:1-13 which describes Josiah coming into his reign as King and undoing the sins of his fathers, going on to begin the rebuilding of the temple, and charging the Levites to oversee this and having them “supervise all of the workers from job to job.”
The second is Luke 16:1-13, known as the parable of the shrewd manager, who we are told realises that “My master is taking away my job,” so he devises a clever scheme to create goodwill with those who owe his master money and make himself indispensable.
That isn’t to say there’s anything wrong with having a job – Paul the Apostle made and mended tents as a job, and Jesus was a carpenter for a job (Mark 6:3). It’s just that somehow in our modern world where we all have jobs, we seem to have lost the vision of work that’s implied in scripture. Let’s try and get something of that back…
Check out Exodus 31:3 below, this is the first reference in the Bible to anyone being specifically filled with the Spirit of God:
“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘See I have chosen Bezalel, son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of craft.’”
Think about the way we relate to the idea of being filled with the spirit of God and the way we pray for fresh anointing from the Holy Spirit. In today’s climate it’s typically something we associate with a Pentecostal church service and times of healing.
So what is work in the kingdom, and how does that differ from the idea of a job?
At its core, a job is a task or service we provide for money. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that at all – it’s a transaction.
Here’s some comparisons that might help…
It's the same with us. So if you were a guitar, what style of music would you be designed for? When the answer to that question is revealed, it brings enormous freedom - freedom to pursue what you're made for (and will naturally love) and, equally, free to ignore all the things that aren't what you're designed for.
Here's another example: Jackie Chan. He's a legend who totally redefined the martial arts genre by introducing humour and slapstick comedy sequences into what was traditionally a very stoic, macho world. What most people don't know is that Jackie Chan has starred in over 100 movies (he filmed his 100th movie in 2011 actually - a historical war epic called 1911 as it happens).
However, most people have only heard of about 30 of his films - those he's done over the last 25 years. Why? When Jackie Chan first set out in Hong Kong cinema he was being groomed as the next Bruce Lee. With Bruce Lee's death, the film industry desperately wanted to find someone else to step into those shoes. Jackie did that for a while in a bundle of movies most people have never heard of, but he didn't find fame until he gained enough credibility for the movie producers to allow him to step out of Bruce Lee's shadow and direct his own film - the world's first slapstick martial arts movie called Half A Loaf of Kung Fu. From there the rest was history and kung fu comedy was born.
In the poster below, the images on the left hand side are films from his early career that you've probably never heard of. The middle and right hand side are just some of the films he's created since stepping into his voice, his signature, his calling. See the difference?
Work in the kingdom is inherently creative - it improves life, adds new dimensions of quality, beauty and efficiency to society. Anything that promotes or increases life is the work of the kingdom - and anything that promotes life is inherently at war with the curse that promotes death.
In the Bible, God sends craftspeople as weapons against the kingdom of darkness. Check it out.
"Then the Lord showed me four craftsman. I asked, 'What are these coming to do?' He answered, 'These are the horns that scattered Judah so that no-one could raise his head, but the craftsmen have come to terrify them and throw down these horns of the nations who lifted up their horns against the land of Judah to scatter its people" (vs 20-21).
And, the world will start to notice...
"Do you see someone skilled in their work? They will serve before kings, not obscure men" (Proverbs 22:29).
For an awesome book on this topic, check out The War of Art by Stephen Pressfield (he is also the author of the Will Smith movie, The Legend of Bagger Vance. Both are well worth your time).
See you next time when we take a look at the role of Play in the kingdom.