Jesus’s job

When I unexpectedly lost my job in 2018, introductions became tricky.

In American culture, introductions tend to go like this: “Hi, I’m [name], and I’m an [occupation].”  Outside our names, our identity is based around what we do, which meant this template didn’t work well for me:

“Hi, I’m Paul, and I’m unemployed.”

Here’s the thing: I actually knew my identity more fully then than I ever had before.  The Spirit had been moving in big ways leading to the job-loss, revealing my identity was not based on occupation, but the reality that I am a child of God, invited to follow and represent Christ with my life.  Put another way, my “job” was to do as Jesus did in every context, whether formal or organic, structured or spontaneous.

“Hi, I’m Paul, and I’m an Ambassador of Christ.”

The last 5.5 years have been a wild ride in discovering that it means to be an Ambassador of Christ, and how I can embrace it as a true “job” even if it doesn’t come with a paycheck. (You can hear more of the story here.)  God has equipped me to see beyond the traditional logic and pursuits around occupation to a calling that leads to “immeasurably more than all I could ask or imagine.” (Ephesians 3:20)

This penchant to base our identity and value on occupation and accomplishments does not just impact us personally, but is something we inflict on those around us.  We do not want to admit it, but we often apply it to Jesus too.

What was Jesus’s job?  If we imagined Jesus holding a business card, we could fill it in with an array of titles and accomplishments.  Yet Jesus was not some guy in a suit with a pocket full of cards; in fact, on many occasions he said, “don’t tell anyone what I’ve done here.”  While he did accomplish many things and filled many roles, he would not describe himself in the ways we do.  Here’s how he communicated it to the Jewish leaders:

So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him. In his defense Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.
Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.”
John 5:16-19

Jesus’s job was to do what he saw his Father doing.

If we see Jesus only as a healer, or a teacher, or a charismatic leader, we diminish his true identity; after all, there were times few were healed, his teachings were rejected, and his followers turned away.  These roles and accomplishments were only outlets for his true calling: to look to and mirror his Father.

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Matthew 6:33

What is your job?  If you are a Christ-follower, your calling — which supersedes all human responsibilities —  is to do what he does, no matter the context or the consequences.  Part of the reason I became unemployed is that I rejected a path to fighting for my job, because I believed Jesus demonstrated a better way.  The former would have been for the sake of my reputation, security, and justice; to allow my job to be taken was for His glory.  It was unconventional, even foolish, but time has revealed it was the wiser option; in “seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness”, I’ve not only experienced His power, but more deeply discerned my identity and value.

You may have a practical job, but your role of “Ambassador of Christ” should shape it; and in the scenario your human occupation ends, you have eternal job security in your ambassadorship.  How you fulfill your responsibilities, interact with coworkers, and spend your time should be reflective of Christ; even more, your motives should match his.  How much would money, advancement, and reputation drive Jesus?  How often did he do things that others deemed foolish because he was driven by Love?

Being an Ambassador of Christ is a hard calling because it is deeply counter-cultural and costly, but no human pursuit can come close to its eternal value:

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Matthew 6:19-21

Fortunately, this spiritual-occupation is not based on our own ability; after all, even Jesus said, “the Son can do nothing by himself.”  You merely need to address what your eyes are set on: income, advancement, accomplishments… or “the kingdom of God and His righteousness”?

If the latter, you can find yourself no longer bound to a human understanding of jobs and income, and instead freed into a deeper calling that draws you to the Father and leads to fruit beyond your capacity.  Your job is “Ambassador of Christ”, and on paper it can’t be beat:

  • Compensation: Traditional jobs could offer you a nice paycheck, but that pales in comparison to what God can do; because God is Provider, you will have everything you need: “The Lord will open for you His good storehouse, the heavens, to give rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hand.” (Deuteronomy 28:12)
  • Benefits:  Human jobs may have perks like insurance or transportation; God can provide all that and more, sometimes in impossible ways: “your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” (Matthew 6:8)  Even more, there is the ultimate benefit in Acts 2:38: “And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
  • Responsibilities: Most jobs you can only secure if you have the skills, and are better than others; God doesn’t need you to be the best, only willing.  In fact, you could be the least: “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” (1 Corinthians 1:27)

 

“Ambassador of Christ” is the best job you could ever have, and you can hold that role whether you have a traditional job, or are crazy like us YWAMers and are living into full-time volunteer ministry.  Jesus showed us what it looked like to shape the entirety of his life — what he did and why he did it — on the movement of his Father, and invites us to do the same, starting today.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.”
Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.”
Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works.”

John 14:6-10

Related Comments

4 Responses

  1. As usual, well said! I’ve had some people tell me that missionaries are “professional Christians” but reading this makes me realize we should all be professional Jesus look-a-likes and the seriousness of being Christian should be part of everyone’s life.

  2. Wow. I am very grateful that you wrote this and for what God has shown you and done for you!
    I am in the same exact position currently and have been for a while.
    No job and struggling with the identity attached to having a “good job” in the eyes of the world.
    It has been a long journey and some of it I have felt lost- wandering in the desert.
    But God. He’s always there, always was, and forever will be. Guiding me, teaching me, loving me.
    I know now that my true identity is based solely on Him and everything else around it will be transformed because of His presence, power, and promise.
    Thank you for sharing.

    1. Really grateful for you sharing! Unemployment can be so difficult when the loudest voices in our ears are the external ones; but when we hear that “still, small voice”, we begin to see our circumstances differently, and know our identity is not defined by them!

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