Immanuel – God With Us, Even at Work – by John Kyle
Would you like to skip Christmas this year – just forget about the shopping, the decorating, and the stress?
If so, you’re not alone. According to a recent survey, 45% of Americans would like to skip Christmas.
Americans have similar feelings about work. A 2014 survey shows that 52% of Americans are unhappy at work.
Another survey indicates 49% of people would quit their jobs if they won the lottery.
What’s at the root of this dissatisfaction?
Maybe we’ve lost sight of Immanuel – God with us – in Christmas and work.
Sometimes we get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of the Christmas holiday that we lose sight of the One the holiday is all about.
The feasts, gifts, and gatherings lose their meaning when Jesus is not present in Christmas. We shouldn’t be surprised that Christmas has become a burden rather than a joy for many people.
Sometimes we do the same thing at work. We get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of the workday that we easily forget the One we’re working for.
The plans, business trips, and meetings lose their meaning when Jesus is not present with us at work. As a result, like Christmas, work has become a burden rather than a joy for many of us.
Losing sight of God, whether in work or Christmas, leads to a separation between our activities and the meaning of those activities. Joy and sense of purpose are lost.
Both Christmas and work seem pretty bleak when viewed this way. Fortunately for us, there is Good News.
Immanuel, God with us, is the Good News.
The appearance of that little baby more than 2,000 years ago has changed everything about everything. The Almighty God who saves his people appeared as an approachable man.
Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for ‘In him we live and move and have our being.’ – Acts 17:27b-28a
He is not distant. He is one of us. He is the reason for Christmas and for work.
Christmas without Christ is meaningless. But, Christ with us, lifted up and worshipped, is the centerpiece of a truly joyful holiday.
The gifts we exchange, the decorating and even the hustle and bustle are rich with meaning when we acknowledge Christ’s presence in them.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. – Proverbs 3:6
In the same way, Christ brings meaning and purpose to our work. In Christ, mundane tasks take on eternal significance. The burdensome list of must-do’s becomes a list of opportunities to use our gifts for God’s glory and the good of others.
Acknowledging Christ’s presence in the workplace is an essential and practical aspect of connecting our faith and work.
Managing our businesses well, investing in workplace relationships, delivering products and services that are valuable and meaningful to customers – doing all of these things for the glory of God is part of our call to do things the way God intended.
God with Us at Work
Although he has gone from our physical sight, Jesus remains present with us (Matthew 28:20b). He sustains us (Hebrews 1:3) and has sent his spirit to dwell in our hearts as our Teacher and Comforter (John 14:26).
Jesus, a.k.a. Immanuel, is with us when we’re working at our jobs and when we’re opening gifts under the tree. He is the meaning in, the motivation for, and the source of joy for both.
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John Kyle is the Chief Operating Officer at the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics (www.tifwe.org).
The Institute for Faith, Work & Economics™ (IFWE) is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) Christian research organization committed to promoting biblical and economic principles that help individuals find fulfillment in their work and contribute to a free and flourishing society.