One of the great scenes in the movie, “Amazing Grace” (a story about William Wilberforce), is Wilberforce consulting with his old pastor, John Newton. Wilberforce had been contemplating a call into ministry or his work in parliament as the path of his life. Those around him were able to persuade him that his work in parliament was indeed his calling. The issues of social justice, and in this context the ending of the slave trade in the British Empire, were areas he could work in and God could use.
Albert Finney played John Newton and I can still hear that beautiful line delivered by Finney as he encourages Wilberforce to pursue his vocation in parliament: “Wilber, you’ve got work to do.”
This is the great understanding we need as believers. Our work matters. N.T. Wright’s challenging book, Surprised by Hope, sets up the framework of “heaven” and “heavenly work” being far more than just being saved so our life after death is assured. All we do now as believers has a tremendous impact on what God is building.
“You are not restoring a great painting that’s shortly going to be thrown on the fire.” (Wright)
We need to see our lives as believers count. God is inviting us into his great work!
Every act of love, gratitude, and kindness; every work of art or music inspired by the love of God and delight in the beauty of his creation; every minute spent teaching a severely handicapped child to read or walk; every act of care and nurture, of comfort and support, for one’s fellow nonhuman creatures; and of course every prayer, all Spirit-led teaching, every deed that spreads the gospel, builds up the church, embraces and embodies holiness rather than corruption, and makes the name of Jesus honored in the world — all of this will find its way, though the resurrecting power of God, into the new creation that God will one day make.
Friends… we have work to do.