Got a terrible job? Here's how to redeem it.

by Mar 16, 2016

Got a terrible job? Here's how to redeem it.

by Mar 16, 2016

Have you ever wondered why God put in your job? Maybe that question crosses your mind every Monday morning. Especially if it’s not the greatest job in the world — the pay is bad, the work environment is bad, your boss is bad. Or maybe you’ve wondered why God has you in the house where you live. Especially if it’s a small little single-wall construction with no yard and no AC.

Have you ever thought maybe God has you in the job or the neighborhood you’re in because he’s pushing you into a relationship with a coworker or neighbor for the sake of the gospel? A relationship that never would have formed any other way?

That’s what Peter and Cornelius experienced. Peter was a typical first-century Jew who never would have associated with a Gentile. Cornelius was a Roman soldier who was interested in Jewish culture and religion, but was never fully accepted by the Jewish people. Acts 10 tells the story of how God sovereignly pushed them together into a relationship that never would have happened without his intervention, and there are three ways God is doing the same thing today:

1. God is sending you across social boundaries.
You might never choose to hang out with the kind of people God put in the next cubicle or the next apartment. But he has a purpose for where he’s sent you, like he had when he sent Peter across a sharp racial divide. Peter explained it:

You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation, but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean. So when I was sent for, I came without objection. … He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that Jesus is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”(Acts 10:28-29, 42-43)

In the same way, he’s calling us to go to the people at work tomorrow. Or the person in class on Tuesday. Or the person on the bus you take every Thursday. Or the neighbor down the block next Saturday.

He’s sending us across walls we ourselves have constructed. Wals between people who look like us and acts like us, and people who don’t. Between people who share our interests and people who don’t. Between people who like our music and people who don’t. Between people who sound less educated and people who don’t, or between people who sound too educated and people who don’t. Between people who send their kids to public school, or private school, or homeschool. God is sending you across those boundaries, and the good news is…

2. God is already working on the other side of the wall.
He was working in Cornelius’ life for years before Peter showed up, and even gave Cornelius a mystical vision that set up the whole encounter. Here’s how Cornelius described it:

Four days ago, about this hour, I was praying in my house at the ninth hour,4 and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms have been remembered before God. Send therefore to Joppa and ask for Simon who is called Peter. He is lodging in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the sea.’ So I sent for you at once, and you have been kind enough to come. Now therefore we are all here in the presence of God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord. (Acts 10:30-33)

God was working in Cornelius’ life, just like he’s always working. He’s always orchestrating things to lead people to himself. There’s no such thing as a pioneer missionary. There’s nobody who just shows up and leads someone to Christ. God is the ONLY pioneer missionary. He’ll start working in someone’s heart, and then he’ll usually send a whole string of people to prepare that person for the gospel.

Billy Graham used to have a saying: “It takes twenty people to lead someone to Christ. The first person thinks he had nothing to do with it, and the last person thinks it was all him.” Which proves that ultimately it’s God who is working to bring someone to a saving knowledge of Christ. And when he does…

3. God’s goal isn’t conformity.
His goal isn’t to take all these people from all these different cultures and backgrounds and styles and preferences and make them all look the same. He brings wildly different people into his family, expecting them to keep most of their unique traits intact. Peter initially expected the opposite, but he couldn’t believe that for long when he saw God working in the lives of the Gentiles:

As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” (Acts 11:15-17)

In other words, “I wanted them to become like us if they were going to become Christians, but who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” And we’re just like Peter. We’re fine with people from different backgrounds, styles, and preferences coming into our church as long as they learn to talk like us and dress like us. As long as they learn to like our music.

But God is bringing people from all kinds of different backgrounds into our church, and we need to celebrate that. So one practical way our church will do that is to proactively pursue diversity in our music. In the not-too-distant future, you’ll hear a wide variety of music styles — one Sunday the music might be more traditional, and the next week it might be more gospel/soul. One week you might hear island music, and the next week electronic music. Who knows?

God is sending you across all kinds of boundaries for the sake of the gospel, and he’s welcoming all kinds of people into his church.