This Prayer Guide for Universities is part of a series of posts. Be sure to catch all of them.
When God spoke the light of the universe into being, that was the first day of His work of creating the natural world. His work gave him pleasure, and when he was done with work “he rested from all the work of creating that he had done” (Gen. 2:3). So it was fitting that when he created the first human being in His own image, “He put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it” (Gen. 2:15).
Though broken and twisted, we still have God’s fingerprints on our identity and He still has a good purpose for all of us. Like our Creator, we can create our own universe through our imagination; God “set eternity in the human heart” (Eccl. 3:11). So motivated by pride and fear, we try to fix our brokenness, and the curse that we brought to all of creation. Because we were created in God’s image, we dream of eliminating poverty, eradicating disease, reducing greenhouse gases, or influencing international politics. Even those who do not know God know that something is very wrong. Some, surprisingly, use their God given gifts to make a positive difference. Others create horror and strife. And many others struggle with fear and shame. Even small things, such as impure thoughts, unkind words, or wasteful spending, limit their power to make a positive difference.
If we are to make a difference, we need help. We need power to make the hard choices necessary to realize God’s dream for our lives and our world. Jesus said, “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much” (Luke 16:10). Little did his hearers know the faithfulness of the one who said those words. Jesus worked hard throughout his life, first as a carpenter’s son and then as an itinerant teacher working miracles, casting out demons, and finally laying down his own life to fulfill the dream of His Father.
Jesus appeared to about 500 people after his public execution. He gave clear instructions, but only 120 obeyed and waited for the Spirit to give them power to carry the message of salvation to the world. The only qualification is to trust and obey, and the message of salvation through the promised Messiah rapidly spread everywhere. Families, businesses, schools, and municipal governments were transformed. The power of Christ’s message even touched the Roman Empire. Structure and doctrine began to define the work of Church leaders. Soon, the religious worker became more acquainted with military and political power than the power of the Holy Spirit. Christians were taught that priests, monks, and nuns were living the perfect life, while farmers, soldiers, and tradesmen lived a kind of secondary grade of piety. Fewer people knew God’s dream, so fewer people did the work that transformed societies.
Then a few courageous people reignited the light of the gospel, which also reintroduced the promise of a transformed society. A new generation of believers heard the message that salvation is a free gift, which sets us free from the fear of judgment and the toil of work. Reformers emphasized Jesus’ words, “By grace you are saved…not by works” (Eph. 2:8-9), and “The kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21). The external powers of human governments and institutions became subject once again to the power of God. Therefore God does not expect us to hide from the world behind stained glass windows and religious institutions. Instead, God calls every believer to “go into all the world” (Mark 16:15), which includes every sector of society, every business, school, and governmental office. We are all called to be priests to the world, praying for and appealing to every person to receive the gospel of the kingdom.
German Reformer, Martin Luther writes that though they have “no obvious appearance of holiness,…household chores are more to be valued than all the works of monks and nuns.” This biblical perspective of work gives everyday worldly activity a religious significance. Ordinary work has dignity and meaning. Modern novelist, poet, philosopher, and friend of C.S. Lewis, Dorothy Sayers exhorts Christian leaders to teach a “Christian understanding of work,” that work is the natural exercise and function of humankind – because we are made in the image of God.
Eighteenth century composer, Johann Sebastian Bach, was known to write the letters AMDG on his finished works. AMDG stands for the Latin words ad maiorem Dei gloriam or, in English, ‘To the greater glory of God.’ As we turn on this light on our virtual campus prayer walk, let’s ask God for a new generation of students and professors to join God’s Mission to redeem every sphere of influence through their work. Let’s ask God for a new generation of Church leaders to affirm every kind of work as worship. (Col. 3:23)
On September 9, YWAM International has our monthly call to prayer. Read “The Invitation” to learn about this month’s focus, which is on students and universities internationally.