When we come to know Jesus, our relationship with Him should change the way we live and work.

Some believe the follower of Christ should remove him or herself from the ordinary or worldly things in an effort to be holy or set apart rather than setting apart the ordinary for the glory of God. Paul, in 1 Corinthians 10:31, clearly supports this idea of doing everything to God’s glory when he says, “Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

The reality is, our lives and work matter to God. Coming into a relationship with Christ may not mean we change what we do. However, coming to know Christ does change how we do what we do. Following Jesus changes how we live and work.

In the Gospel of Luke, chapter 3, John the Baptist comes preaching repentance in the wilderness. “He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Luke 3:4). His message to the crowd that had gathered at the Jordan River was simple and powerful, “Bear fruits in keeping with repentance” (Luke 3:8).

John began addressing the crowd and the people’s various needs for repentance. Many of them were religious leaders who thought they were in good standing because of their good deeds, their heritage and their being in the lineage of Abraham. John said to them, “Do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham” (Luke 3:8).

The crowd was puzzled by this paradigm shift; the Messiah had arrived, and John was preparing His way with a profound reframing of what it meant to be right with God. It was not the people’s heritage that would save them and put them in good standing with God. The crowd responded in Luke 3:10 “What should we do then?” This is a great question, “What shall we do?” John responded to this question and to another question, “How shall we do what we are doing?”

John was declaring that the kingdom of heaven was at hand; the Messiah and His salvation had arrived. John was proclaiming this would change everything. Salvation had come from heaven to earth in Jesus Christ. This salvation reality radically would change how we live our lives, all that we do, the way we work, how we do what we do.

John addressed this change when he said to the crowd, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same” (Luke 3:11). Followers of the Messiah, those who were “making His path straight,” no longer were to overlook the needs of those around them.

John caused such a stir in the region that “even tax collectors came to be baptized.” They inquired of John in Luke 3:12, “Teacher, what should we do?” John addressed this question, not with a rebuke, asking them to change their vocation, but with a charge to change the way they did their jobs. “‘Don’t collect any more than you are required to,’ he told them” (Luke 3:13). The tax collector’s faith and baptisms were to change how they conducted their vocation.

The soldiers that were in the crowd that day asked John what they should do and he responded, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay” (Luke 3:14). John did not say for them to stop being soldiers. He asked them to change how they did their jobs as soldiers and followers of the Messiah.

What it looked like to be a child of God was beginning to take on a new form. The way in which work would be done and the way in which lives would be lived in light of the Messiah’s salvation and presence were subject to redemptive change. This is the same for us today. Salvation and God’s presence in our lives has real implications for redemptive and restorative change in how we live and work.

The question the crowd is asking John in Luke 3:14 is a religious question, “And what should we do?” Interestingly enough, John answered their question; after all, he was asking the crowd to “Prepare the way for the Lord,” and to “make straight paths for Him” (Luke 3:3). It is in hearing from God that we are informed of what God wants us to do. In his book Hearing God, Dallas Willard asserts, “Grace is not opposed to effort; it is opposed to earning.” Like John, Willard is writing from the standpoint of hearing God in order for us to know what it is God wants us to do.

While we are not saved by our own works, but by grace through faith in what God has done (see Ephesians 2:8-10), the presence of salvation in our lives has real implications on how we live our lives and how we do our work, or should do our work. As Paul said in Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” The presence of God in our lives, and His salvation of our lives, changes how we live and work.

Dr. Bruce Lockerbie, in his book The Timeless Moment, says, “This is God’s divine invitation, to ‘be fruitful and increase, fill the earth and subdue it’ (Genesis 1:28). This is God’s mandate for us to participate in the fashioning and furbishing of his ongoing Creation.” Lockerbie also asserts, “God summons us to take His gifts of creation and, by offering them back to Him, raise our vocation to the level of art.” As we work, we are fulfilling God’s call “to join in the celebration of all God’s wonderful works to the children of men” (Lockerbie, p. 23).

In Luke 19:1-9, we see how Jesus’ salvation changed the life and work of Zacchaeus. This tax collector had been extorting money from people unjustly as he was collecting taxes from them. Having heard of Jesus, Zacchaeus sought Jesus out to get a glimpse of Him as He was passing through town. Jesus, knowing Zacchaeus would be in a tree that day looking for Him, pursued Zacchaeus in the crowd.

Luke described the scene, “When Jesus reached the spot, He looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today'” (Luke 19:5). Zacchaeus came down from the tree at once and welcomed Jesus gladly.

When the crowd saw this, they were not happy and began to grumble, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner. But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, ‘Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount'” (Luke 19:6-8).

Upon hearing this declaration from Zacchaeus, Jesus said to everyone around, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:9-10).

Salvation meant change for Zacchaeus. This change, giving generously to the poor and paying restitution above and beyond the damages that he caused, illuminated the salvation that Jesus brought and declared had come to Zacchaeus’ household that day. This change was evidence of Zacchaeus’ salvation and that he was, indeed, a child of Abraham, because of Jesus’ presence and salvation.

The crowd, the tax collectors and the soldiers John the Baptist preached to were asked to “Bear fruits in keeping with repentance” (Luke 3:8). John called them to change the way they were living their lives and the way they were doing their work. He was calling them to prepare the way for Jesus. It just makes sense. When Jesus steps onto the scene, life and work do not go on as business as usual.

Like with the crowd and John the Baptist, and like Zacchaeus’ story, the presence and salvation of Jesus changes the way we live and work. This salvation causes us to ask, “Teacher, what should we do?” (Luke 3:12). This salvation causes us to say, “‘Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount'” (Luke 19:6-8).

May we allow the presence and salvation of Jesus Christ in our lives change the way we live and work. If we have lived wrongly, would we “Bear fruits in keeping with repentance” (Luke 3:8). If we have cheated anybody out of anything, would we “pay back four times the amount” (Luke 19:6-8). May the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ change the way we live and work!

Prayer: Almighty God our heavenly Father, You declare your glory
and show forth Your handiwork in the heavens and in the
earth: Deliver us in our various occupations from the service
of self alone, that we may do the work you give us to do in
truth and beauty and for the common good; for the sake of
Him who came among us as One who serves, your Son Jesus
Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy
Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (The Book of Common Prayer, P. 261)

Lockerbie, Bruce D. The Timeless Moment: Creativity and the Christian Faith. Cornerstone Books, Westchester, Illinois, © 1980.
The (Online) Book of Common Prayer

Robbie Pruitt loves Jesus, youth ministry, the great outdoors, writing poetry and writing about theology, discipleship and leadership. He has been in ministry more than 17 years and graduated from Trinity School for Ministry with a diploma in Christian Ministry and from Columbia International University with a B.A. in Bible and General Studies and a minor in Youth Ministry. Follow his blogs here and here, and connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.

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