A Life in Fashion – part 3
Christians in the workplace
The idea of how our ministry in the workplace resembles Old Testament priesthood came from Nicole, my praying friend in Kansas. I was intrigued and have dug around to discover some key roles of a priest, starting in Genesis 14 with the priest Melchizedek who anointed, prophesied over and blessed Abram – and all in two verses, the time and motion people would have loved him!
In Exodus 19, the Israelites are described as “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” which is echoed by Peter as he reminds the newly founded church of their identity “We are a chosen people, a royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2)
Priestly garments get the whole of Exodus 28 to themselves. In particular, the Ephod and Breastpiece both had stones with the names of the sons (tribes) of Israel sewn into them, symbolising the fact that Aaron was representing all Israel when he ministered before the Lord.
In Leviticus, we find detailed rules on how a priest should live, summarised by “They must be holy to their God and must not profane the name of their God.”
By the time we reach Deuteronomy (20:2), we see the priestly role being carried out in the workplace: “When you are about to go to into battle, the priest shall come forward and address the army … “Do not be faint-hearted or afraid … For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you … to give you the victory.” This is echoed as Joshua takes the Israelites over the Jordan and it is the priests who lead them around the city of Jericho, with the walls falling to the noise of trumpets (the sound of worship), not canon fire.
In Deuteronomy 31:9-10 the priests read the law to the people, so the people can learn to fear the Lord and follow the Law.
Jumping to Hebrews (4:15), Jesus is presented “as a high priest who is able to sympathise with our weaknesses, but unlike us was without sin.”
Now, you may have spotted that the Old Testament figures referred to above are priests and you are therefore quite right to query what any of this has to do with non ordained types in our workplaces. I would suggest that the answer is to be found in the Great High Priest, Jesus Christ, who didn’t just perform the role of priest, but embodied it in His daily life and of course His death. As followers of Christ we are called to follow Him, carrying on His work in the power of the Holy Spirit. And His commissioning in Matthew 28 is for all of us and not just the ” professionals”.
Indeed there is opportunity for lay people to be the hands and feet of Jesus reaching out to a needy world to a degree that reaches beyond what is available to those who are ordained. Their role in equipping the saints for their daily workplaces therefore becomes all the more crucial. Our challenge is to identify how God has equipped and positioned us to carry out a priestly role in our workplaces. Here are some suggestions:
Know that we are a chosen people, all of us members of a royal priesthood belonging to God, and embrace that calling.
Be holy and take care to live a lifestyle free from the entrapments of sin.
Live out a prophetic lifestyle, seeking discernment into what is going on around us and bringing a heavenly perspective to all that we are part of.
Bring blessing to others, both believers and unbelievers.
Teach Christians with whom we have influence how the Word is relevant to everyday lives in our specific workplaces.
Come alongside and intercede (boldly) for work colleagues.
Anointing is the act of consecration for a task so, in a modern work environment, this might include mentoring someone to prepare them better for their God given role in the workplace. And as I scan back to some of the key influencers in my life, I have to ask myself how intentional I am being in passing on the baton and being an encourager.
Reflect the holiness of God to our colleagues.
Be bold in our expectancy of what God wants to do, spending time to wait on Him and listen.
Be prepared to grapple with the practicalities of what God wants us to be and do in our various areas of influence.
There’s another ten point action plan!