Between rest and action –

Do what Jesus calls you to do

Andreas Latossek

Kirche am Bahnhof, Frankenberg, November 5th, 2023


Karl applies for a job. He calls the human resources manager of a large company and gets an answer. “Unfortunately we can’t hire them, we don’t have any work for them.” “Oh, says Karl, I wouldn’t really mind that.”
Our current series is called Between Peace and Action.
There is a time to work and there is a time to rest and recover. We have found that it is not a question of a conflict between these two sides, peace and action, but what we find difficult is finding a healthy balance.
In the last few weeks we have been more concerned with the side of calm. We have heard Jesus’ invitation, who wants to give us life to the full and who invites us to come to him, to find rest with him, to lay down our burdens, but also to learn from him for our lives.
We looked at how we can recharge with God, the rhythm he gives us with one day of rest per week, what meaning it has and how we can shape it.
Last Sunday was about slowing down in our everyday lives and living simply. And today I would like to look at the other side with you and talk about doing, about working.
On the one hand, working can bring us a lot of joy and on the other hand, it can also be quite a burden.
Some of us are currently preparing for work. Others are in the middle of their professional lives and some are already behind them. But actually that’s only a very small part of work, namely professional work.
This morning I’m interested in a much broader perspective. Because we also do work at home, at school, in the community, as a hobby. It’s about everything where we do anything, whether with or without pay. We all work in some form.
Some people might be thinking: Oh no, today is Sunday. Now I’m sitting in the service and thought I could put the topic behind me. We certainly have a divided relationship with work. But despite all the challenges that work brings with it and the times of rest and recuperation that we have talked about, the Bible first and foremost states:
  1. Work is a blessing.
Right at the beginning, in the first verse of the Bible, God is introduced to us as a working God:
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. Genesis 1:1
God himself works. You could say he gets his hands dirty, he lends a hand. Jesus learned a trade while on this earth, he became a carpenter. And at the end of time, God will meet us again at work.
In Hebrews 11:16 it says that he built a city for men in heaven, with God as the builder.
Things looked completely different in ancient times.
Among the Greeks and Romans, work was slave service imposed by the gods. The gods created humans so that they could live off their sacrifices. Work was something unworthy. Working physically was a social stigma. Anyone who could somehow allow themselves to do so allowed people to work for them. The ideal was the free and wealthy full citizen who served the state without having to work and could enjoy the muse. The Bible, on the other hand, describes us as a working God.
And man, we, are created in his image.
We already had exactly that when it came to the day of rest, that God rested and thus gave us an example. The same is true now with work. Work is a gift from God to us. It didn’t just come after the fall. You could think so. Often when you think of paradise, you think of a land of milk and honey where you can put your feet up. But that’s not the case.
In Islam, there is no work in the idea of ​​paradise. There are other things happening that men would willingly die for. But no work.
In the story of creation, however, we quickly read that God included humans
takes to work. There we read:
And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. Genesis 2:15
God therefore passes on his creative activity to man as a commission.
Humans are created to cultivate and preserve.
Building stands for progress, creativity, development. Man, in the image of God, creatively and creatively gifted. It’s normal that we want to create. And just talk to someone who has been unemployed for a long time, how boring and how hard a day can go by. How you struggle with yourself and your self-confidence slides into the basement.
Preservation, on the other hand, represents the limits of progress. The world has been entrusted to us by God and we are allowed to use it, but not destroy it or selfishly exploit it.
God’s blessing is connected with the task, with work and with responsibility.
What God started in creation, he wants to share with us humans. And this becomes visible in another event in the context of creation. There we read:
And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. Genesis 2:19
So God creates the animals and then he says to Adam: And you, you are responsible for the names.
Come on, think about it! So has God run out of names now? This cant be true. God, you are wiser than me. You’ll know better, why should I do this now?
Yes, what is it with God sometimes? Why should I pray? God, you know everything. Why should I do that now, you can do it so much better.
But God works differently. God is a relationship guy. He includes people.
He gives Adam responsibility and lets him be creative.
Let’s see how you do it. And then he gives Adam an encouraging wink. At least that’s how I imagine it.
In the Bible we read that God has equipped every person with gifts that are intended to be used and worked:
 As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
The fact that we are gifted, that we have the strength to be able to do something, is God’s grace, it is a gift from God to us. Through the parable of the talents, in which three men are entrusted with something by their master, two use it and one buries it because he thinks he cannot please the Lord, it becomes clear that God wants us to do that we use what he entrusts to us. Here in the Bible verse it says that we are then good stewards. So work is a blessing. We can be grateful that we work, that we can do something.
But work also has another side.
Early in the morning, a father knocks on his son’s door and calls: “Felix, get up. It’s time for school.”
Felix turns over in bed and calls back. “I don’t want to get up, Dad.”
The father knocks again and calls even louder:
“Now finally get up. You have to go to school.”
“I don’t want to go to school.”
“Why not, asks the father in return?”
“For three reasons,” says Felix. Firstly, it’s so boring, secondly, the kids annoy me all the time, and thirdly, I just can’t stand school anymore.”
“Then I would like to give you three reasons why you absolutely have to go to school,” replies the father. “Firstly, it is your job. Secondly, you are 45 years old and thirdly, you are the class teacher.”
I think each of us is familiar with this situation. At least some of these days. Not in the mood for work. Work is not only a blessing, but work is also a burden.
  1. Work is a burden.
You have already guessed that after creation comes the fall. Adam and Eve turn away from God, do not trust him, feel restricted by him and want to have their lives in their own hands. Despite their actions, God takes care of them, makes them clothes and at the same time he pronounces a curse:
17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; 18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; 19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art , and unto dust shalt thou return.
Suddenly the work becomes tedious and stressful.
No more paradisiacal conditions. The work takes on an aftertaste. Sin has dire consequences for Adam and Eve and for the next generations up to the present day. The wonderful divine environment, one could say with ideal working conditions, becomes a curse. But it is not the work itself that is cursed, but the result of the work. There is a mismatch between work and success. While work was previously carefree and effortless, now it has something to do with burden.
In some places these paradisiacal conditions still shine through. Namely when we notice that something is getting out of hand. We do this with our left. A few proverbs. When things come easy to us and something succeeds, it feels good. And I think that’s how work was originally intended. But often you struggle. The result is rather poor. Thorns and thistles grow with you, as mentioned in this curse.
Anyone who has a garden knows this. All the stuff that doesn’t belong there. You get the impression that it spreads much faster than the actual plants, the actual flowers. And you have to constantly look after it, otherwise the garden will become completely overgrown. Kind of annoying. A little look into the future, when this will no longer exist:
The trees of life will bear fruit twelve times a year. Not like today, once a year. And if we are unlucky, the harvest fails. Or it just doesn’t turn out so well. God intended work to be a blessing, but it has become a burden.
And what happens at the same time because we no longer live work in this connection to God:
Man begins to misuse the good gift of God. On the one hand, people are exploited and oppressed: There are:
  • Minimum wages.
  • Hartz IV.
  • Work until you drop.
And if you feel this way and are suffering from this injustice, I want to tell you that God sees you:
In James 5:4 we read how God criticizes employers:
Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth.
On the other hand, man thinks he can do it without God and uses work to fill the gap from God.
Where previously God gave people value, people received their identity in their relationship with God, having his image, and God was their security, work now takes this place.
Jesus also tells a parable that has a lot to do with last week, with living simply and collecting treasures:
16 And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: 17 And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? 18 And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. 20 But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? 21 So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God. 22 And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. 31 1 But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.
So there is this farmer, you could say, who has reaped a super rich harvest.
And now he decides to increase his shyness. Then he can rest. He has prepared well for the next few years. His neighbors admire him, he becomes Manager of the Year and gives lectures at major conferences. The press writes: everything was done right. But then God comes and says, no, not everything was done right. You did n’t include me in the calculation.
Jesus does not tell this parable to say that we must not plan or provide.
Jesus tells this parable to protect his listeners from false security. What is it like when we have a good job and earn good money? How quickly do we feel safe and think we are well positioned for the future? Nothing can happen to us so quickly. Anyone who relies on their security at work becomes dependent on their training, their company, their boss, their stocks, their investments, their insurance.
The underlying question that Jesus is actually asking here is: Who do I trust for my life? Who do you trust with your life?
God wants us to seek our worth, our identity, our security in him,
not in work, not even in anything else. And especially when we think about illness or unemployment, we are at a very crucial point here. Even if God actually intended it that way, that work is part of our lives and that we are certainly missing something if we can’t or aren’t allowed to work, then the only way we can deal with it well is if we don’t have the situation destroys the fact that we look for our value, our identity, our security in God and find it there.
With other people I’m judged by my work: What, you don’t work, what you’re just a line worker; what: do you voluntarily stay at home and raise the children?
With God we are given value because we are his counterpart, because we are his image. Our identity is to be His image and His child. He promised to take care of us. We distort this very often. But when we internalize this identity, we become more relaxed, less driven, and have a healthy relationship with work.
Lastly, if we talk about this:
  1. Do what Jesus calls you to do
then we see with Jesus:
Jesus lived about 33 years. During this time, like most of us, he learned a trade, worked as a carpenter and finally worked in public for 3 years. In this short time he completed his entire mission. Three years that have left us more than any other life. As I’ve already said, Jesus never seemed rushed or stressed, he didn’t have burnout, he didn’t work around the clock.
What is his secret?
It is his close connection with his father:
John 5:19 : Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.
John 12:49 For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.
Jesus looks to the Father and he does what he was commissioned to do,
Nothing else. From this connection with the Father, Jesus knows why he came into this world and why he lives. We see this again and again in his statements, for example:
Luke 19:10 : For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.
This is at the same time his motivation and one could also say his vision:
John 10:10 : The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
When Jesus calls his disciples, he calls them according to the same principle:
Mark 3:14 : And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach.
He calls them first of all to be with him. That close connection with Jesus that we’ve already talked about. And from this connection, as with Jesus with his Father in heaven, and from this identity, he sends them and he sends us. From this close connection with Jesus, we can let him guide us and lay on our hearts what he calls us to do.
It is important to know ourselves.
We are all different and it is good if we know ourselves, with our strengths and weaknesses, also our limits, different levels of resilience, so that we don’t have to do everything, but from this identity as God’s beloved children we can also say no to things, that don’t suit us.
We notice when we look around the room what our personalities are like, what we are good at and less good at, people we can get along with better or less well, groups of people or topics that… We may or may not be interested in values ​​that are particularly important to me, perhaps also what God has specifically placed on our hearts, that each of us is different and special, brings things with us in this unique combination that only you have and that too no one else can do what you do.
As a rule, Jesus calls us in the way he created us and not completely opposite.
That can sometimes be the case, then God gives us everything we need.
And what is it that Jesus calls us to do?
I recognize five big general lines that everyone fills in their own special way:
  1. All for the glory of God
Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31
  1. Among the Thessalonians there were people who did not want to work.
Probably because they thought Jesus would come back soon and then we wouldn’t have to do anything anymore anyway.
But Paul writes to them:
Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread. 2 Thessalonians 3:12
So we should provide for our own living and work for it.
  1. God places me in an environment, my family, my neighborhood, my city.
And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the LORD for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace. Jeremiah 29:7
That’s my responsibility to get involved so that cooperation and everything that is necessary for it is successful.
  1. God gives me gifts that I should contribute to his kingdom
Compare 1 Corinthians 12 the picture of the body, in which each part fulfills its specific task
  1. God gives me a mission
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
Thomas Härry writes in his book: The art of leading yourself: People gifted and empowered by God face the responsibilities and tasks that God assigns to them.
  • I have no responsibility to live someone else’s life.
  • I have the responsibility to shape my life with what God has entrusted to me and the environment in which God has placed me in these 5 major lines of life.
  • I get to discover what God has put inside me.
  • And then, from this close connection to Jesus, I can let him guide me
  • And I can say no to other things because I don’t have to prove it to anyone, I’m loved by Jesus, and so a good balance between rest and action
The next song expresses this desire: That Jesus can take me and shape me and use me in this world, that I can do what he calls me to do.


Bible references with kind permission: ERF Bibelserver