Faith Politics

The priesthood of the believer and the dignity of work

I am a Christian who believes in the priesthood of all believers.

By trade, I work in the employment business, and I place many people in what are often considered thankless and mundane jobs. So labor and work are matters that are of interest to me.

So I was especially interested as I recently was reading Erwin Lutzer’s book “Rescuing the Gospel,” which covers in large part the journey of Martin Luther and how he impacted the world for generations to come.

Martin Luther did a tremendous amount of work dismantling the concept of salvation through works, pointing instead to faith in Christ and inward, personal repentance.

There was also a side benefit to his work and teaching, and there is a small part of the book “Rescuing the Gospel” that points this out.

Lutzer writes: “Later on, as Luther developed the implications of the doctrine of every believer’s priesthood, there was a radical change in the way people viewed work. Whereas the church had taught that only religious exercises (such as saying a prayer, giving of alms, or participation in the sacraments) were pleasing to God, Luther concluded that all work — even the most mundane — could be to the glory of God.”

“He said, ‘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 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 church and by the works done therein. … The who world could abound with services to the Lord, not only in churches but also in the home, kitchen, workshop, field.'”

Luther’s teaching on work continue to benefit us today. It’s important for us all to note the nobleness of even boring work. I find myself often appreciating more what are generally considered the more mundane jobs: the manufacturing worker, the truck driver, the forklift operator, the mechanic, the plumber, and the maintenance technician.

Luther taught that the priest and the church were not the only ones responsible for interpreting the Bible. He taught that is the duty of every individual.

Likewise, it is not only the duty of the elites to glorify God through their work. It is the duty of the janitor, the machine operator, the sales professional, the bookkeeper, the CFO, and anyone else who serves a job with a purpose.

If you have a job that you don’t find to be exhilarating, take a moment to consider Proverbs 22:29: “Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men.”

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