April 23, 2016

Christ in my work, even my hobbies

A hobby is usually some pastime that takes the mind off daily chores and responsibilities. The focus is on the task at hand, whether golfing, model building, or sewing. However, there is no record that Jesus, His disciples, or the Apostle Paul ever took a day off to fly kites. Yet regardless of what they did for leisure, the Bible has plenty to say about daily work and ordinary activities.

For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building. (1 Corinthians 3:9)

In its context, this verse refers to those actively engaged in building the kingdom of God. He is their partner in the work for no man can do this without Him. However, there are other verses about work, even about other ordinary activities like eating, drinking, and by implication, hobbies.

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:17)
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. (Colossians 3:23–24)

Chambers says I should beware of any work for God which enables me to evade concentration on Him. These verses tell me that I should also beware of doing anything that does not consider Jesus as my Lord and Savior. This includes my activities as a quilter. Even though I often pray while cutting and piecing fabric, I am aware how easily that activity can pull my mind away from everything else, even God.

Chambers also says a great many Christian workers can go to the extreme by worshiping their work. Again, these verses suggest that such worship cannot be limited to Christian ministry. Even though many complain about their jobs, some people do ‘worship’ their work, and some even ‘worship’ their hobbies. While enjoyment of work is okay, the Bible says that God gives that enjoyment — my worship should never slide from Him to adulation of any joyful activities that He gives me.

Another thought is relating work to play. A child plays (which is ‘work’ for him) with delight and without any regard for it being tedious. If my activity is no longer joyful, it can soon be resented. This child can become tired, frustrated, even angry. It also happens to employees, and to those engaged in their hobbies.

For example, some say about quilting, “I’ve no patience for that.” They do not know the joy of it, and perhaps do not experience the Lord’s joy in other ‘work-related’ activities. They certainly haven’t realized that patience isn’t required to experience pleasure in work or a hobby, only the ability look to God in the doing of it. He gives joy and can make work more like child play.

That can change, and if it does then my hobby or other activities become empty, without freedom and without delight. If my mind and body become burdened by them, I need to examine my motivations and again rely on God for the blessing of Himself in my work.

Yet as Chambers says, there is another side to this joy from God. When my concentration is on Him, and when all of life is free and under His dominance, and when I trust in Him alone, I can feel alone. If that sense of aloneness gets to me, then I could also bog down. My responsibility is to keep in constant touch with God, without anything hindering my relationship with Him.

All that annoys or frustrates goes away when I remember that Jesus Christ set me free to pour out whole-hearted devotion — in doing whatever my hands finds to do. 

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