Unfortunately, many people have created a division between what is ‘sacred’ and what is ‘secular’. In fact, there has been a certain amount of tension between business and Christianity throughout the centuries. St. Jermome said, "A merchant can seldom if ever please God." St. Augustine, a fifth century bishop said, "Business is in itself evil." Not too much encouragement there!
Where does this perspective come from? It comes primarily from Greek philosophy which sees life as a number of compartments – personal, family, work, religion (faith), recreation, etc. As long as we prioritise correctly and make appropriate contributes to each ‘box’, life will work out for us. Our faith and our relationship with God are ‘sacred’. Everything else is ‘secular’ - having no religious, sacred or spiritual aspect.every area of life. All of life is to be lived in His presence and for His pleasure.
Your business and your work is meant to be sacred. It is part of God’s purpose for your life (see Genesis 1:26-30). God’s mandate for us in creation was to take dominion over the earth and to work productively in it (Genesis 2:15). Work was God’s intention for us before sin. It was not a curse given to us because of sin. Business is simply an institutionalisation of ‘work’.
Many of the people God used in the Bible had careers and ran businesses at some stage in their life. They were not all ‘people of the cloth’ or working with the Temple or the church environment.
- Abraham was a herder of vast flocks of sheep, goats, donkeys, cattle, and perhaps even camels. Many modern scholars think he was also a trader, managing donkey caravans and doing business from Turkey to Egypt.
- Deborah was a judge in Israel.
- David was a king, responsible for an entire nation.
- Nehemiah was an employee in the king’s palace.
- Daniel was a government official. Amos was a farmer.
- Jesus was a carpenter up until the age of 30. He had to deal with customers, products and orders.
- Paul was a tentmaker who funded his church work through the profits (in partnership with Aquila and Priscilla).
- James and John were fishermen who had a fishing business with their Father.
In all of our life we are to honour and represent Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour (Colossians 3:17). This includes our business. God is interested in the relationships in the workplace and how people treat each other (Ephesians 6:5-9).
Tomorrow, we'll begin talking about God's purpose for business ...