As a church, we’re in a season of considering how the gospel forges a community that is distinct from the rest of the world. On Sundays, I’m focusing on the “one another” commands of Scripture – those passages where the Lord instructs us on how we should be treating each other within the church. But our treatment of one another shouldn’t be the only distinction.
For example, we should work with a vigor and intensity that stands out in a sea of laziness and mediocrity. Christ followers should be the most diligent students in the classroom, the most productive employees in the factory and the hardest workers in the office. We won’t always ace the test, make the right decision or come up with the best answer. But nobody should outwork us. That’s not because we’re better than anyone else but because we have a totally different, and infinitely superior, motivation. We do it all for the sake of Jesus’ name. Our work ethic isn’t motivated by our advancement but by His glory.
In Ezekiel 36, God is once again contending with faithless Israel. He’s outraged that when Israel “came to the nations, wherever they came, they profaned my holy name, in that people said of them, ‘These are the people of the Lord, and yet they had to go out of his land.’ But I had concern for my holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations to which they came.” (Ez. 36:20-21) In other words, Israel was acting in such a way that pagan nations were looking down on Yahweh. Israel’s faithlessness tarnished the name of God. And God takes the glory of His name very seriously!
Israel profaned the name of God through exile and abandoning the promised land. I’m convinced that one of the most common ways we do it is through our laziness. Don’t use Scripture as your screensaver and then spend all day on Facebook. Don’t tell everyone how much you love Jesus and then be consistently unprepared for meetings. If you’re going to celebrate Jesus taking on your sin, you ought to be willing to take on some extra work every once in a while. We need to get to work because laziness profanes the name of God.
This is what Paul has in mind as he’s wrapping up the third chapter of his letter to the Colossians. “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.“(Col. 3:17) And then just a few verses later, “ 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.” (Col. 3:23-24) Work in a way that makes God look amazing.
We talk all the time about the world needing hope now more than ever. It does. Sometimes that hope shows up in big, bold, dramatic ways. But, more often, it shows up when ordinary Jesus followers get up, go to work, do their best and earn the right to talk about the God behind it all. So, Restoration City, be distinct. Get to work!