Loving God and Neighbor in Daily LifeDaily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
The man answered, “ ‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ”
The Gospels teach us that we are to love God with our whole being and our neighbor as ourself. This rule of thumb sounds just right. But how are we to put it into practice? And where?
Christians often answer the “how” and “where” questions by dividing life up into a sacred part and a secular part. The sacred domain includes church, family, one’s private life, and, perhaps, close friends. The secular sphere of life includes everything else, such as work, business, school, one’s public life, politics, and relationships beyond family and friends. Within the sacred part of life, a Christian should live out biblical teachings, such as love for God and neighbor. But the secular dimension requires different values and priorities. God doesn’t expect us to love him at work, does he? And politicians running for office shouldn’t be required to love their political opponents, should they? God wouldn’t expect businesses to operate on the basis of love, would he?
In fact, Scripture teaches us to answer “yes” to these questions. The biblical command to love doesn’t come with qualifications, such as “Love the Lord, but not at work” or “Love your neighbor, as long as she isn’t running against you in an election.” No, in fact, the call to love God and your neighbor is meant to guide you in every area of life, including work, business, school, politics, and citizenship. The Bible does not divide life into sacred and secular realms, each with a different set of values and ethics. On the contrary, the God who created the world and everything in it cares just as much about what we might call the “secular” as he does about the “sacred.”
So, if God’s vision for your life includes loving him and your neighbor in the workplace, for example, how might you begin to do this? I’d encourage you to start with thoughtful prayer. Ask the Lord how you might love him at work. What difference would it make if you offered every action of your work to the Lord as worship? Talk with God about your relationships with your boss, your colleagues, your clients, your customers, and those you supervise. Ask him to show you what it would mean to love these people in a way that is appropriate for the workplace.
If you’re looking for resources that might help you to think about your work in a new way, let me suggest two. First, I’d recommend the book: Your Work Matters to God by Doug Sherman. Sherman offers a wealth of biblical wisdom as well as practical examples from the workplace. Written in the late ’80s, a few things in Your Work Matters to God are dated (like Yuppies, for example). But this is an outstanding book, nevertheless.
The second resource I’d like to bring to your attention is the “mother” of these Daily Reflections, The High Calling website. Here you’ll find a wealth of material about living out your faith at work. You’ll find much here to inspire and encourage you as you seek to love God in the workplace.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Do you ever think about what it would mean to love God and your neighbors at work or school, in your public life, or even in your political life? What might keep you back from loving in so-called “secular” contexts? What would help you to love in every setting of life?
PRAYER: Dear Lord, I must confess that I find it natural to think of loving you only in certain areas of life: at church and in my devotions, among my family and friends, and in the parts of my work that are “obviously spiritual.” Even though I know better, I do get swept up in a division of life into sacred and secular. When this happens, I relegate you and my love for you and others to the sacred realm alone. Forgive me, Lord, for shutting you out in this way.
Help me, I pray, to see all of life as the place where I can love you and my neighbor. In particular, I ask you to help me love in contexts that seem to be removed from you. In all of my dealings with people and in every facet of life, may I seek to love.
Teach me what it means to love you, Lord, in the nitty-gritty details of my work life. It’s easy to love you when I’m writing Reflections or teaching the Bible. But what about when I’m traveling and tired? And what about when I’m doing my monthly financial reports? How can I love you when I’m sitting in meetings I’d rather avoid? Give me an expansive new vision of how I might live my whole life as an expression of my love for you.
I pray in the name of Jesus, Amen.