The ‘Priesthood of All Believers’ for Work

I composed the following as a devotional for some of my Christian coworkers at work.


For those of us who are Protestant, we will likely be celebrating the 500 year anniversary of the Protestant Reformation this coming fall.

In light of that, as we think of our Christian calling in relation to our work, it’s more than fitting to recount the Protestant doctrine of the priesthood of all believers.

Christian historical philosopher Alister McGrath explains in the following:

“From the outset, Protestantism rejected the critical medieval distinction between the ‘sacred’ and ‘secular’ orders. While this position can easily be interpreted as a claim for the desacralization of the sacred, it can equally well be understood as a claim for the sacralization of the secular. As early as 1520, Luther had laid the fundamental conceptual foundations for created sacred space within the secular. His doctrine of the ‘priesthood of all believers’ asserted that there is no genuine difference of status between the ‘spiritual’ and the ‘temporal’ order. All Christians are called to be priests – and can exercise that calling within the everyday world. The idea of ‘calling’ was fundamentally redefined: no longer was it about being called to serve God by leaving the world; it was now about serving God in the world.”

The spearhead of recovering this Biblical theology was Protestant reformer Martin Luther:

“The idea that the service to God should have only to do with a church altar, singing, reading, sacrifice, and the like is without doubt but the worst trick of the devil. How could the devil have led us more effectively astray than by the narrow conception that service to God takes place only in a church and by the works done therein…The whole world could abound with the services to the Lord, Gottesdienste – not only in churches but also in the home, kitchen, workshop, field.”

“Monastic vows [or thinking of ‘serving God’ purely in terms of some strict class of ‘religious activities’] rest on the false assumption that there is a special calling, a vocation, to which superior Christians are invited to observe the counsels of perfection while ordinary Christians fulfil only the commands; but there simply is no special religious vocation since the call of God comes to each at the common tasks.”

“What you do in your house [or, in our case here, office] is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God…We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God.”

The New Testament:

Colossians 3:23-24 – 23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for [not ultimately our team lead, managers, or CEO, but…] the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

And all of this is because of the gospel — the fact that Christ has saved us from our sin through his death in our place, and restored us as worshipers of God who serve Christ, even in our occupations.

#TheologyOfWork #ProtestantReformation

Advertisements