“The Christian life is marked by the offering of one’s self to God to be shaped, empowered, directed and changed by God. In worship, God presents us with the costly self-offering of Jesus Christ. We are claimed by Christ and set free. In response to God’s love in Jesus Christ, we offer God our lives, our gifts, our abilities, and our material goods, for God’s service.” (The Book of Common Worship)
Would you allow me to introduce you to one of my favorite Hebrew words? The word is avodah and it is used over 200 times in the Old Testament. Avodah is like a diamond; as you turn it in different directions, you see various dimensions to its beauty.
In some places avodah is translated “work;” in other places it is translated as “worship,” and still other times as “serve.”
- The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work (avodah) it and take care of it. (Genesis 2:15)
- Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘This is what the Lord says: Let my people go, so that they may worship (avodah) me. (Exodus 8:1)
- And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve (avodah) the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. (Deuteronomy 10:12)
David Miller, in his introduction to Dorothy Sayer’s essay “Why Work,” writes “This rich, biblical, and integrated concept of avodah provides the understanding of work through which we both worship God and serve neighbor.”
I love the way Eugene Peterson captures the words of the Apostle Paul in his letter to the church in Rome:
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. (Romans 12:1, The Message)
How are you seeking to integrate your work, worship and service?
In the next post, I will offer up some ideas for workers, parents and students.