At the beginning of his earthly ministry, Jesus announces that “the kingdom of heaven has come near” (Matthew 4:17). When we read “kingdom of heaven,” we may think of harps, clouds, and angel choirs, but Jesus is clear that the kingdom of heaven refers to God’s rule on earth. The kingdom of heaven “has come near.” It has come here to this world.
The workplace consequences of living in God’s kingdom are profound. Kingdoms are concerned with governance, economics, agriculture, production, justice, defense—issues we see in most workplaces. Jesus’ teachings, as recorded by Matthew, speak directly to our life at work. In the Sermon on the Mount, he inducts his followers into the values, ethics, and practices of this new kingdom. In the Lord’s Prayer, he instructs them to pray, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:9-10). The Gospel of Matthew concludes as Jesus commissions his followers to go to work throughout the world because he has received “all authority in heaven and on earth” and will be present with them in their work on earth (Matthew 28:19-20). Matthew is clear that this kingdom is not fully realized on earth as we know it, but will reach completion when we see “the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:30). Meanwhile, we turn our backs on the old ways of work, so that the new way of the kingdom of heaven is made visible in us as we live. Even now, we work according to its values and practices.