Freedom is not a word I would typically use to describe work. Even in good jobs, there is a weight and pressure that makes work much closer to slavery than freedom. There demands of the difficult days, the painful conversations, and the stressors of the job make work feel like being in chains. There’s a burden that comes in the tension as you anxiously wait to see if today will be a good day and your boss will be care-free or if today will be a day with the micro-managing boss who checks in on every single detail.
And add to the external burdens, the internal, self-created burden that comes in our work. For many of us, we use our job as a means of validation. Our careers, our success, and our job satisfaction become the measuring stick for our worth. Because of this, I am a slave.
I am not free. I am exactly what my paycheck, my title, my boss, and my workplace say about me. I’m a slave to my own abilities at performing at an imaginary level that somehow satisfies my cravings to be validated and told, “You’ve made it.”
Jesus, however, frees us from this. In the death and resurrection of Jesus, we are freed from the chains of work. The shackles of our job fall off as we find everything we need in Christ.
Notice how Paul connects the work of Christ to our daily work in Galatians.
For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. - Galatians 5:13-15
Freedom in Christ leads to love for the people around us.
Jesus sets you free. Jesus sets you free from your bondage to sin. And he sets you free from the bondage you feel in your job. He frees you from the pressure to perform at an unrealistic level. And He forgives you for your over-obsession with your career and gives you everything you could ever need in Himself.
Does this immediately change your work? Probably not. Your boss might still be horrible. You might not be able to quit the job because you still have to put food on the table. You might even still wrestle with your own identity issues as you try to climb the corporate later.
A lot, on the surface doesn’t change. But underneath the surface, freedom changes everything.
"Outwardly there is no great difference between a Christian and any honest man. The activities of a Christian are not sensational. He performs his duty according to his vocation. He takes good care of his family, and is kind and helpful to others. Such homely, everyday performances are not much admired…Only the acts of a Christian are truly good and acceptable to God, because they are done in faith, with a cheerful heart, out of gratitude to Christ.” - Martin Luther, Commentary on Galatians
On the outside, there’s no difference between your work before Christ and after. But because of Christ, you work now is done out of freedom. Because of Christ your work is truly good. Your work is an opportunity for you to serve, and for Christ to serve in and through you. You’ve been set free to do your work. A friend of mine once said, "You have worth apart from your work and that frees you to work for all that it is worth."
Freedom defines the work of a Christian.
Jesus gives you freedom to do your work. Jesus frees you to love your neighbor in your work, he frees you to love your work or hate your work, and he frees you to do your work well. Not because in doing your work you find freedom, but because you are free; your liberty and life in Christ frees you to serve in every way possible, including your work.