Who's the Boss?
At the core of the Christian work ethic is not what we do, but whom we serve.
Story behind the sermon (from Lee Eclov)
I wonder if people aren't a little suspicious when we preach about work. When we say that all work is a calling, and that all work is good and important, I wonder if some have trouble swallowing it. Consider the guy who gets depressed every Sunday night at the prospect of going back to the office or the woman who faces incessant complaints and impossible demands. I think some people gratefully accept their jobs as God's call, but for others it is a hard sell. It can be very hard to think Christian-ly about jobs.
While preaching through the Book of Ephesians, I came to the subject of work. I like preaching through a book of the Bible because, for one thing, the Scriptures set my preaching agenda. I didn't actually decide to preach on work (or the nature of the church or marriage). The Holy Spirit used Ephesians to decide for me. I also like staying put in that one passage, rather than trying to do a broad topical sermon on a subject like work. That means that I don't cover all the Bible has to say about work, but it also means I am forced to look deeply into the thoughts of this one passage.
In coming to Ephesians 6:5-9, which addresses Christian slaves and masters, there were some interesting challenges. The first was just how much to say about the onerous subject of slavery. I decided to say almost nothing about it, but I prepared a half-page explanation which was printed on the back of the sermon notes in the bulletin. It summarized a helpful explanation of slavery in Greco-Roman culture from Timothy Keller (found in the PreachingToday.com database), as well as information from John Stott's commentary, The Message of Ephesians (IVP, 1984).
The greater challenge was ...
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Lee Eclov is pastor of Village Church of Lincolnshire in Lake Forest, Illinois and author of Pastoral Graces: Reflections on the Care of Souls (Moody Publishers). Eclov also leads a gathering of pastors for mutual support and learning called Pastors' Gatherings. To find out more about these Gatherings visit his site www.leeeclov.com.