I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.
These are the words of Jesus Christ. Here Jesus first declares His imperative to perform the will of God the Father. The second statement, a future tense proclamation with prophetic undertones, is more challenging to understand. Interpretations of this night when no man can work are numerous and varied. I believe that this verse is multifaceted. The night could refer to the death of Jesus specifically, death in general, the new heavens and new earth where our work will cease, a time during the Great Tribulation where because of either Satan’s wrath or God’s wrath our work will not be possible, or even several among these and others not listed here. I don’t claim to offer a definitive interpretation of this verse, but I’d like to pose a question that the Holy Spirit has laid on my heart.
What if there is soon coming a time when the disruption of the global financial system leads to a general inability to work?
When I began to ponder the potential practical and economic implications of the verse several other questions arose…
What happens if the credit cycle freezes for a month?
What happens if the unemployment rate goes to 100%?
What happens if our ability to work out God’s calling in our lives is interrupted?
How should we act in light of these possibilities?
I won’t be able to address all the aspects of these complex questions here, so instead I’ll offer some thoughts and considerations from scripture and then provide some encouragement to my brothers and sisters in Christ on that last and most important topic: what we should do.
If you have responded to the call of God then you have taken on an incredible role as a child of the King and a bondservant of Christ. In order for the love of God to be made manifest, we have been created with free will. Love inevitably involves choice simply by definition. Suppose we program a computer to say ‘I love you’ whenever a particular command is entered. Even if we hear those words millions of times in such a manner true love will have never entered into the equation. God loves us so far beyond our capacity to imagine that even the degree to which our understanding is eclipsed is beyond our comprehension. You could even call it a known unknown unknown. We know that we don’t know how much we don’t know. Eat your heart out Donald Rumsfeld!
As part of the parable of the wedding feast, Jesus makes a remarkable statement:
For many are called, but few are chosen.
Responding to the call of God is on the short list of the most important and valuable things that you can do in this life. Few are chosen because we have the free will to ignore the calling that God has given us. Sadly many of us ignore God totally, most of us ignore God for extended periods of time, and all of us – if we’re honest with ourselves – ignore God in intervals and moments.
But what is the calling of God? Let’s again go to the Word of God made flesh, Jesus Himself:
And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
Notice how Jesus literally called the people as well as the disciples. The call to take up our crosses is universal. There is but one way to God. Believe on Jesus Christ, the Son of God, His death, burial, and resurrection, and follow Him.
But weren’t we talking about economics? What’s the relevance of all this calling stuff?
Don’t miss this: believe it or not we never stopped talking about economics. Economics at its most basic concerns how we deal with scarce resources. Our primary scarce resource in this life is this life itself. Time is the scarcest resource because we’ll never know how much of it we have. Today is the day of salvation. Tomorrow is not promised. As such, economics is concerned with virtually all of the decisions we make during our lives, including the eternally critical decision whether or not to follow the calling of God.
Through following God’s calling we know that we are called to follow God. However, each of our callings is definitively unique. My calling is different than yours even though they have many similarities – such as all three parts of Mark 8:34 listed above. God can call you to be a preacher, but the vast majority of Christians are not called to professional ministry. We are all called to be disciples of Christ, but we can also be called to be doctors, teachers, athletes, politicians, scientists, lawyers, sailors, cashiers, salespeople, musicians, bankers, miners, artists, writers, business owners, mechanics, homemakers, judges, assistants, nurses, and thousands more.
I believe there is coming a time when no man can work. I don’t know exactly what that would look like, but it won’t be pretty. But be encouraged brethren. While there is daylight left, while there is still time for you to respond to the call of God, while others still need to be saved, while the Holy Spirit still convicts us, and while we can still advance the Kingdom of God regardless of the position we have been called to, it is our responsibility to work with diligence and fervency.
After looking at the global financial landscape for as long as I have, I can tell you that a sense of urgency has developed toward my work. Take note: urgency is not the same as panic. We should be diligent and focused on accomplishing the tasks that God has given us, but that doesn’t mean that the Holy Spirit can’t still provide us with patience, peace, calm, joy, and rest in Christ as well.
Answer God’s call. Press in to Jesus through the Word, prayer, and work. After all, God’s promises are sure, and that includes this one:
He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much
A great reward will be ours both in this life and the next if we rely on God to give us the ability to accomplish His calling and purpose for our lives. Let us endure to the end, run the race, and fight the good fight of faith my brothers and sisters in Christ!