(This is a shortened form of last Sunday's sermon 10:10 Work, part 3 of a series called Fruitfulness On The Frontline based on Mark Greene's book of the same name... listen to my 10:10 Work sermon here)
If you haven’t seen the movie To End All Wars, I suggest you seek it out. Made about 2001 it starred Robert Carlyle and Kiefer Sutherland and was set in a Japanese prisoner of war camp in the latter half of there Second World War. It is a violent film but through humanity’s inhumanity to humanity there is another story of radical living that transforms that humanity.
The movie was inspired by the biography of Ernest Gordon who would later become Dean of Chapel at Princeton University. Gordon went into the war as an agnostic but left as a believer. He was influenced by two fellow prisoners, one a Methodist and the other a Catholic. With nothing other than the Bible the men start to read it and as they read it decide that it is a book that needs to be lived. As a result they decide that to love their enemies should mean that they work faster in their hard labour to build the Burma Railway. They finish it early and their putting their faith into their work transforms those who are being brutal to them. The movie ends with Ernest Young himself visiting a war memorial with one of the guards Takashi Nagase. As a result of the prisoner’s radical living, Takashi Nagase became a devout Buddhist devoting his life to missions of atonement to the River Kwai.
Our human vocation as found in Genesis was to work for the flourishing of God’s creation - The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it (Genesis 2:15). While our human vocations were distorted in what Christianity terms The Fall Jesus came to restore it. The apostle Paul describes this in his letter to the Colossians: For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross (Colossians 1: 19-20).
The Christian’s vocation is now to be a resource for God to reconcile all things. later in that same letter to the Colossians Paul writes, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3: 17) The Christian’s vocation is to do all of our work is a front line for the Kingdom breaking in. I call this 10:10 Work; a paraphrase of John 10:10, "life in all its fulness". It fires the imagination to see that work is not just a toil to get to pay day but is a vocational calling to reconcile the world to God. This should not only inspire our work but should make us a valuable resources to any workplace as we serve a higher calling in our everyday ordinary tasks. If it had an impact in a brutal prisoner of war camp, it can have an impact where we all are.