By Aaron Earls
Whether they agree with his theology or not, most American Christians agree with Martin Luther’s views on work.
In An Open Letter to the Christian Nobility, Luther criticized referring to religious occupations as “spiritual” and treating other areas of work as somehow less noble. He said this distinction was “a piece of deceit and hypocrisy.”[epq-quote align=”align-right”]When asked if it’s better for a Christian to become a pastor or missionary, or to represent their faith well in their place of work, 64 percent of American Christians said neither is better than the other.[/epq-quote]A new study from Barna finds American Christians still carry on that Reformation tradition 500 years later.
When asked if it’s better for a Christian to become a pastor or missionary, or to represent their faith well in their place of work, almost two-thirds (64 percent) said neither is better than the other.
A quarter (25 percent) said it was better to represent their faith at work, while fewer (12 percent) said becoming a pastor or missionary was preferable.
In fact, most employed Christians see God at work in their work. Sixty-four percent say on some level that it’s clear to them how their own work serves God or a higher purpose.
“This indicates Christians are prone to see spiritual value in any working context,” says the report, “or that perhaps the marketplace seems to them as urgent a mission field as any.”
Ben Ries, associate dean for vocational formation at Abilene Christian University, said these Christians see their work in a unique light.
“There are men and women who sit in our pews who walk into board meetings, classrooms, warehouses, offices, and interactions with clients with a deep sense that God is there and that God is up to something in this world,” he said.
“They are teachers, lawyers, executives, non-profit leaders, social workers, and healthcare professionals who have developed a sense that their work is not simply something to endure, but the very place they experience God’s presence and transforming power.”
AARON EARLS (@WardrobeDoor) is online editor of Facts & Trends.