We live in what theologians call “the already, but not yet.” The kingdom of heaven has already been inaugurated by Jesus in his earthly ministry, but has not yet been fully realized—not until Christ returns in person as King. Meanwhile, our lives—including our work, our leisure, our worship, our joy, and our sorrows—are framed by the reality of living in a world partly controlled by the old, corrupt ways of the Fall (Genesis 3), yet partly ruled by its true Lord, Christ. As Christians, we put ourselves wholly under Jesus as Lord. Our habits on earth are now to reflect the coming kingdom of heaven. This is not to boast that we are more godly than others, but to accept the challenge of growing into God’s ways. God calls his people to many different roles and occupations on earth. In all these roles and occupations, we are to live out the true reality: the reign of God that is coming from heaven to earth.
At the same time, we cannot escape the ills of the world brought on by the Fall, including death (1 Corinthians 15:15-26), sin (John 1:29), and Satan (Revelation 12:9). Jesus himself experienced terrible, though temporary, suffering at the hands of sinful men, and so may we. In our work, we may suffer greatly through forced labor, permanent unemployment, even work-related death. Or we may suffer in smaller ways as we deal with challenging coworkers, unpleasant working conditions, promotions deserved but not received, or a thousand other setbacks. Sometimes we suffer from the consequences of our own sin at work. Others may suffer much more than we, but all of us can learn from the Gospel of Matthew how to live as Christ-followers in a fallen world.