Imagine how much time it would take to make a chair by yourself. You would not only have to cut and shape the wood yourself, but you’d also have to make the tools. To make the tools, you’d have to mine the ore to make metal. It would take months, perhaps years, to do all the things necessary to create the chair. When you share in the work of others, however, you can buy a chair with money equivalent to some number of hours’ worth of your time, not months or years of effort. Even if you want to make the chair yourself, you can buy tools made by someone else.
All work, according to God’s design, is service. Through work we enrich one another and become more and more interwoven. When Christians do ‘secular’ work, they function as salt and light in the world (Matt. 5:13–16). Farming and business, childcare and law, medicine and music – all these forms of work cultivate, care for, and sustain the created world that God made and loves. We are all ministers (priests) to the human community on God’s behalf.
Work is taking the raw material of creation and developing it for the sake of others. Musicians take the raw material of sound and bring the meaning of art into our lives. Farmers take the raw material of soil and seed and bring food into our lives. This means we are God’s ministers in our work not only when we are witnessing or talking directly about Jesus, but when we are simply doing our work. A musician is serving God when she makes great music, not solely when she is singing about coming to Jesus.
- Tim Keller