Freedom in Christ

Article / Produced by TOW Project
Freedom in christ

These three considerations — the needs of the world, your skills and gifts, and your truest desires — are guides, but they are not absolutes. For one thing, in a fallen world, you may have very little ability to choose your job anyway. Throughout history, most people have had the job of slave, farmer or homemaker, and that is still the case in much of the world outside the most developed countries. It is hard to imagine that - residents of a few developed countries aside - God wants most people to be slaves, farmers or homemakers. Rather, it seems that circumstances prevent most people from choosing jobs they truly desire to do. This is not to imply that some people don’t or shouldn’t enjoy farming, homemaking, or any other kind of legitimate work, but rather that the circumstances of the world dictate that many people work in jobs they don’t like. Yet, under God’s care, even being a slave can be a blessing (Matthew 24:45-47, 1 Corinthians 7:21-24). In no way does this legitimize slavery in today’s world. It simply means that God is with you wherever you work. It may be better to learn to like the job you have — and to find ways to participate in Christ’s work in it — than to try to find a job you think you’ll like better.

What Does Calling Mean if You Hate Your Job?

Even in the developed economies, many people have little choice about the kind of work they do for a living. The Christian community would do well to equip people both to make choices about their profession, and to follow God’s leading in whatever work we find ourselves doing. Whatever your job, God’s gifts enable you to work for the common good, to find more contentment in your work, and to overcome or endure the negative aspects of your situation. Most importantly, God promises eventual liberation from work’s toil, sweaty labor, and thistles.

Even if you do have the freedom to choose your job, the three considerations we have been considering - the needs of the world, your gifts and skills, and your truest desires - are guides, not dictators. In Christ, believers have perfect freedom:

John 8:36

So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.

2 Corinthians 3:17

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

That means you have the freedom to take risks, to fail, and to make mistakes. God might lead you to a job you know nothing about, have no present knack for, and don’t think you’d like. Would you be willing to take that job? Conversely, you might discover late in life that you missed God’s professional calling for you. Take heart, at the end, you will not be judged on getting the right job or fulfilling your God-given potential. You will be judged on the merits of Jesus Christ, applied to you only by God’s grace in giving you faith. The calling to belong to Christ is God’s only indispensable calling.

What Is the Work of the Lord? - Paul Stevens (Click to Watch)

The body of Christ on earth is the community of believers (Romans 12:5). Therefore, freedom in Christ means that God’s calling or leading is best discerned in dialogue with the community, not in isolation. We have already seen that the needs of the world (a form of community) are important as you discern what kind of work God is leading you towards. The community is also an important factor in how you discern God’s leading. What do others perceive as God’s leading for you? What do they experience as your gifts and skills, the needs of the world, and the deepest desires they discern in you? Engage in discussions about God’s leading with those in your community who know you well. It may be wise to talk with a spiritual companion or advisor, to gather feedback from people you work closely with, or to ask a group of people to meet with you regularly as you discern God’s leading.

The community is also an essential element in discerning who is led to the different kinds of work needed in the world. Many people may have similar gifts and desires that can help meet the needs of the world. But it may not be that God wants all of them to do the same work. You need to discern not only the work God is leading you to, but also the work he is leading others to. The community needs a balanced ensemble of workers working in harmony. For example, physicians bring powerful gifts and skills — and frequently a deep desire for healing — into the world’s great needs for physical healing. Yet in the US, at least, there may be too many specialists and not enough primary care physicians to meet the community’s deeds. One by one, medical students are matching their gifts, desires and the needs of the world to discern a leading toward medicine. But all-in-all, the ensemble of physicians is becoming a bit unbalanced. Discerning God’s calling is a community endeavor.