“...the Church devotes little time to helping individuals see their work as laden with sacred potential”

"Good work reveals God by mirroring his life-giving capacity to bless and serve others (Psalms 8:5-8). As creative agents, cultural stewards, and ambassadors of shalom, faithful work has limitless possibilities." - Facts & Trends

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Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Unhelpfully burdened with murky notions about mission and kingdom... and attendant buzzwords, but still some good thoughts in there.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

mmartin's picture

Not sure what Aaron means by "murky notions about mission and kingdom." 

Much of this piece for some reason has been on my mind recently.  I feel for most churches and pastors, especially in our general fundamentalist/conservative evangelical circles, there is a gap between taking the doctrine preached and it's application to the whole life, day by day and minute by minute.  Rarely do you hear pastors talk about our vocational work as an act of worship.  We do not hear much that Christians should be characterized by excellence or should have big life goals.  Not that those things are an end to themselves or for personal glory, but those things being fully submitted to Him, as reflecting Christ's character, and what He has called us to be as Christians.

I submit that your life, your whole life, from the self-talk you give yourself, to your vocational work, to your relationships with others, to having life goals, to . . . everything  - all of it reflects your relationship with God.

So, let's preach and teach this everything.

Don Johnson's picture

While I think the New Testament teaches a faithful work ethic to the glory of God, our work is not our mission. Redemption of the world is not our mission. That is God's work. Our work is proclamation and discipleship. The author misinterprets the Great Commission due to his confusion about this.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Yes, the buzzwords get so thick... but "redemption" is not a bad word, just not in the sense he apparently means. I do think we're redeeming in a sense whenever we bring real improvement to what is broken in the world. In Adam's case, pre-fall, he was using his God-given ingenuity and creativity and energy to improve the garden. After the Fall, we have a new layer: we still reveal God's character (glorify Him) by improving what's around us, but we also bring truth and rightness to what we do and improve it in that way also. I think this can be be called redemption, in the sense of taking things back from the dominance of wrong and ruin.

It is indeed God's work, but He does much of His work through us.

... but no, I'm not among those who expect the church to rightly order the world so Christ can return. We only sort of demonstrate in small ways the sort of rightness He will bring in after He returns.

I think I see "mission" a bit differently also. His glory is our purpose, the meaning of our lives, and so, is our "mission," though I don't find the term helpful. Too much baggage... and it tends to eclipse the call the make disciples. I do see the latter is a component of the larger purpose of God's glory, though. It's just not right to let either one erase the other as so often happens.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Don Johnson's picture

Mark Ward uses a term something like "bending creation back" into order, which I like better than redemption. He uses that term also, but I don't think he means the same thing the more Reformed sorts mean. Any work we do should tend to reshape creation towards a more ordered state, but because of the fall it is a never ending task that can only fully and rightly be done by the Lord himself. We are called to live like him, so to that extent we are to act in ways consistent with restoring/redeeming creation but that isn't our mandate.

I'm not sure Mark would agree with me on this exactly. I'll have to go back to his book and look again. But I recently read most of Nancy Pearcey's Total Truth and she goes for this full "redemption mission" angle. I'm probably reacting to that... I need to do a review of that, but I guess I'll have to finish it first. I didn't like it as well as her other books.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

mmartin wrote:

Not sure what Aaron means by "murky notions about mission and kingdom." 

Much of this piece for some reason has been on my mind recently.  I feel for most churches and pastors, especially in our general fundamentalist/conservative evangelical circles, there is a gap between taking the doctrine preached and it's application to the whole life, day by day and minute by minute.  Rarely do you hear pastors talk about our vocational work as an act of worship.  We do not hear much that Christians should be characterized by excellence or should have big life goals.  Not that those things are an end to themselves or for personal glory, but those things being fully submitted to Him, as reflecting Christ's character, and what He has called us to be as Christians.

I submit that your life, your whole life, from the self-talk you give yourself, to your vocational work, to your relationships with others, to having life goals, to . . . everything  - all of it reflects your relationship with God.

So, let's preach and teach this everything.

Agree. My gripe with "mission" and "kingdom" is that many writers and speakers use these terms way more than necessary, like a kind of virtue signaling... and also don't explain what they mean by them... and/or use them in places where less buzzy but more clear terms are available. 

I haven't seen that at all in Pearcey or Craig or Schaeffer...  or Sproul, for that matter. So I don't see a language problem consistently along Reformed vs. not-Reformed lines. Very few not-Reformed talk about "big picture meets daily life" at all, beyond a few cliches!

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.