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Equipping followers of Christ to engage in their everyday work as the work of God, so workplaces are invigorated, communities flourish and culture is renewed to the honor and glory of the Lord.

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Friday, May 14, 2010

The Missing Curriculum: Part 2

The following is the second installment of an article I recently wrote for the May-June issue of Home School Enrichment magazine. The article is titled, The Missing Curriculum:

I was the principal of a Christian school for fourteen years. During those years, it never occurred to me that my school should provide specific instruction for students in the art of God-centered work. Frankly, I did not know there was such a thing as “theology of work,” or anything close to it, that would make up a full curriculum on the topic, as it did in the days of Jonathan Edwards.

For many years, I, like many others, thought only pastors and missionaries did “God-centered work.” I failed to make any connection between selling shoes (which I did part-time while a college student) and the Kingdom of God.

So what does selling shoes have to do with the Kingdom of God?

If we separate the two, we will never understand what the one has to do with the other.

But as the English Puritan Pastor George Swinnock put it, "The pious tradesman will know that his shop as well as his chapel is holy ground."

This is a teaching that we do not often hear today. When was the last time you heard a sermon along the lines that “your shop as well as your chapel is holy ground?”

But as we know from Genesis 1:26-28, God created humans in His likeness and image with one functional purpose in mind: to rule over the earth and all that it contains.

And this raison d’ĂȘtre necessitates all kinds of work! Furthermore, it makes all legitimate work on planet Earth a response to God Himself!

If this isn’t “holy ground,” I don’t know what is.

The Scripture referenced above, Genesis 1:26-28, says: “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our likeness an image, and let them rule…over all the earth.’”

This profoundly important piece of information is often called, “The Cultural Mandate,” or, “The Dominion Mandate.” But I prefer to call it simply, The First Commission.

And what a commission it is! Here we have a commission to rule over the entire globe!

Chuck Colson summed it up this way: “On the sixth day, God created human beings—and ordered them to pick up where He left off!”

Next week: Part 3

6 comments:

  1. I'd like to recommend Darrow Miller's book, Lifework: A Biblical Theology For What You Do Every Day. It has a lot of practical help to enable us to start thinking differently about the great opportunities God has given us to demonstrate His nature and character in all sorts of diverse circumstances.

    Another source of good resources on this important subject is the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity (www.licc.org.uk). I've really changed my thinking about work as the result of my interaction with them.

    I'm interested in teachers. It seems to me that they need to understand their role as central to accomplishing both the First and Great Commission. Then they need to understand the importance of work of all kinds so that they can communicate to students the eternal value of all that they are preparing to do. They can also cooperate with families by helping all students see the value of the work that their parents do that transcends the amount of money made.

    A wise teacher of the past, Russell Kelfer (www.dtm.org) said that God had 4 purposes for work.
    1. The man (or woman) - His first priority is to change us through our work.
    2. The message - In our work we will learn unique things about God, as we experience Him changing our mind and heart, that we can share with others.
    3. The ministry - God uniquely places His children in His harvest field through the jobs into which He leads them. Most people encounter people at work that the church will never reach in another context. The body of Christ can contribute to "the world"--all the people God loves--in practical ways through their work. This is a tangible expression of His love.
    4. The money - God wants to provide for a person, his/her family and others, but this is His last, not first priority.

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  2. I am president and one of the Teachers of a small Bible college in Southern California ( www.ccbcu.edu ), and our motto reflects the essence of your blog;

    "Ministry is not a future goal, but a daily call."

    We apply this to students called into ministry and those who work in the secular marketplace. The idea is simple, we are first and foremost ambassadors of God's Kingdom. Where you work is your mission field. Pastors are called to equip everyone for ministry. The fact of the matter is that most of the real ministry taking place should be in the work place, not the church. Church is to equip those who attend for ministry in their daily lives!

    So, I say a hardy amen to the truth you are teaching here.

    Blessings,

    Brett Peterson. Pb@livingwater.cc

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  3. Pastor Brett:

    Your note is extremely encouraging! Thanks for letting us know about Coastland University.

    I see from your school website that Coastland is also a seminary. I wish there were more seminaries with a passion for equipping the saints for the work of the ministry outside the four walls of the church.

    You are correct when you say "most of the real ministry taking place should be in the workplace, not the church."

    I also think you are rare.

    Are you aware of the efforts Bakke Graduate University is making toward getting "Theology of Work" courses into seminaries? If not, give me a call at 877.624.0230 and I'll fill you in.

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  4. Boy, this sets us free to do what we have always wanted to do without feelings of guilt that we should be doing more for God.

    I guess the question is "Can God really change my desires for my life to coincide with His, or is his will for me always like taking castor oil?"

    Can I really trust Him to work in my life to "will and to do His good pleasure?"

    What is the deal?

    Robert

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  5. Robert,

    You bring up a critical point. "Picking up where God left off" (as Colson put it) implies that the direction we "pick up" coincides with "His good pleasure."

    Since the Fall, we all have a natural "bent" to go our own way. Because of this, our "picking up" can lead to all kinds of self-centered pursuits.

    So we are not really free to do what we have always wanted to do. Not unless it is what He wants to do through us.

    This is where the grace of God comes in. The grace that comes only from Christ and through Christ and by Christ. The grace that moves and motivates humans who are in relationship with Him to "will and to do His good pleasure."

    Is this what you are getting at, Robert?

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