The Hebrew word “avodah (ah-vod-ah)” is translated in the English Bible for both work & worship. A better English translation when referring to work is service. God Receives Work as Worship Done Unto Him. Put simply – Work is worship. The similarity between the two clarifies that in God’s eyes our work is worship in that it is not done for our own benefit, but rather as an offering to Him. This means the workplace is God’s place. We are to interact with God and talk about God in our workplace just as we do at church or at home. The workplace is a place of worship where we may express the compassion of Christ in word and deed.
Os Hillman in his study on work in the Gospels points out “…that of Jesus’ 132 public appearances in the New Testament, 122 were in the workplace. Of the 52 parables Jesus told, 45 had a workplace context.” Jesus never addressed the sacred and secular divide because such a divide never existed in Jewish thinking. The Jews understood that everything they did in work and in the synagogue was to be done to God’s glory. This is why quality is so important to Jewish workers. They are not working solely for themselves, but also as worship to God.
Rabbi Ira F. Stone clarifies this when he writes; The Hebrew word for service, “avodah,” is the same word we use for both work and worship. This is not an accident…the true obligation is not merely to worship in words, but to do the difficult work of service.
The workplace is the place where our limitations, our fears and our egoism are revealed to us. It is the place where our true sinful self is surfaces. Thus it is the place where people are most open to meeting God. We wish to strive to both teach and model for people how prayer and worship must occur naturally and frequently within the office, the classroom, and the factory. This is key to living life as God created and called us to live.
PATRICK LAI and his family have worked in SE Asia for other 37 years. His experience in doing business with Jesus has brought him to understand the meaning of work and worship in the marketplace. He started 14 businesses in four countries, six of which are still operating. Patrick and his wife, May, mentor and coach businesspeople working where there are few or no Christians. Check out Patrick’s latest book, Workship, now available in paperback and e-book.