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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 28, 2010

The Missing Curriculum: Part 4

Here is the 4th installment of The Missing Curriculum:

If we embrace the notion that our original job description (The First Commission of Genesis 1:26-28) was rescinded at the Fall, then we will have a very difficult time seeing how one’s shop as well as one’s chapel can be "holy ground."

But what the Puritans seemed to understand so well, is that because “the earth is the Lord’s and all it contains, the world and those who dwell therein” (Ps. 24:1), God is still the owner of every pair of shoes in every shoe store in the world, and He claims rights to every customer who walks through the front door.

Because they saw Jesus as “Lord of all” (including all shoes and the selling thereof), they did not divide the world into “sacred” and “secular” compartments. They did not see some work as “secular,” and other work as “sacred.” For them, there was no “secular” world.

No, in Jonathan Edwards day, the merchant was doing “the Lord’s work” as much as the pastor.

If I could be a school principal over again, I would have my students complete a course on “the art and science of God-centered shoe-selling.” I would call it, “More Than A Paycheck.” As a matter of fact, I recently wrote such a curriculum, and I have called it just that!

I’d like the next generation to know that no matter which career paths they might take, whether it be in business, the arts, or homemaking, they will always be working in the Lord’s turf. This is because there is no other place to work! It is all His! He is “head over all” (I Chronicles 29:11).

Further, I’d impress upon them that no matter where we work, our ultimate authority is Christ. We might work in places that ignore the Lordship of Christ, and in some places that deny it, but we will never work in any place that is exempt from it.

Is there any place that lies outside the realm of God’s affairs? Is there any sphere of life’s activity that exists independently of God, on its own, in a vacuum, somehow separated from His ownership, interest and involvement?

Hardly!

I would teach my students that they will never have a “secular” job, because there truly is no “secular” world!

Next week: the conclusion to The Missing Curriculum.

5 comments:

  1. "No matter where we work, our ultimate authority is Christ. We might work in places that ignore the Lordship of Christ, and in some places that deny it, but we will never work in any place that is exempt from it."

    Great idea! This made my heart sing this morning. Thanks, Christian, for the great series of articles. I am currently in just such a place - the public schools as a substite teacher. YOur blog has helped me to see it as His school system where He is at work making His kingdom reality, not "The Devil's workshop" as I tend to think of it. This is mind-renewal the Lord must daily contnue to perform on me. Thanks for your part in that process.

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  2. Robert,

    Thanks for sending this very encouraging note. I hope your words will encouragte many other believers who are in the state school system.

    I'm glad you (and other followers of Christ) are there!

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  3. Me being there as a means of "making tents" and having my kids there would be totally different ideas. Laying a foundation in the minds of my children is a task that the state is not called to do. It seems to me a part of my kingdom responsibility is working to bring God's institutions back within their designed jurisdictions. So, I feel a bit duplitious working in what I see as an illiegitimate expression of civil government, the public school sustem. I have rationalized it as an opportunity to touch people, not furthering an organizaation that I feel needs to be eliminated. What do you think? How does "all work is kingdom work" apply? Is that like you can't bring thievery and prostitution into the kingdom of God if they are not legitimate occupations? Can I bring public school teaching into the kingdom if its an illegitimate expression of civil government?

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  4. Robert:

    Great questions!

    I am totally with you on the idea that having adult followers of Christ who are teachers serving in the realm of education in state schools is a very different matter than sending our children to the state schools to be educated. The adult is on the "giving" end of things, and the student is on the "receiving" end. Two very different ends!

    As for your questions, I think our situation today is somewhat like the Israelites being taken captive and transported to a far off country. Only we haven't moved geographically. For the most part, the "Babylonians" (people who serve gods quite foreign to the God of the people who founded Yale) are in control these days with respect to public education. They have a monopoly on the market. At least for now.

    I think you are like Daniel in Babylon, Robert. Daniel spent his life "touching people" (as you put it) in ways he could never have done had he remained in Jerusalem.

    In fact, God wanted all of the captive Israelites in Babylon to "seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the Lord for it; for in its peace you will have peace." [Jeremiah 29:7]

    The Lord also told them to "build houses...plant gardens...take wives and have children...so that you may be increased there, and not diminished." In other words, they were supposed to “occupy.”

    I think when the "Babylonians" in America started taking things "captive" that the church once concerned itself with, many Christians retreated. I believe this was a strategic error. We should have "increased." But it all happened so slowly, I don’t think we knew what hit us. But we do now. (Well, not everybody knows, but I think the light bulbs are increasingly coming on.)

    Daniel is a great example of a man who was able to live and work in a city devoted to false gods while not losing his commitment to the authentic King. I believe his awareness that he was really living within the borders of God’s Kingdom while residing in Babylon never left him. I’m sure he knew God was actually "over all," in spite of what the civil leaders of Babylon may have thought. Daniel was able to do "Kingdom work" within a civil system and among people who could not see what he was seeing on a daily basis. He had great influence through the reigns of four kings in Babylon, as I recall. His example is still an inspiration to me (and to many others). [A good friend of mind, Larry Peabody, just recently wrote a book called, “Job-Shadowing Daniel.” I highly recommend it.]

    I don't think Daniel tried to eliminate the system within which he lived. But he lived differently within it, and "touched many." He busied himself doing "Kingdom work" in a city that ignored the real King. They did not realize He was the owner of every building, and the sustainer of every person's breath who walked the city streets, just as many of the students and teachers you rub shoulders with on a daily basis do not know. Daniel understood that the Kingdom of God was a reality even though the system that was “in control” didn’t see it.

    I think what you are doing in the state system is very similar to Daniel's situation.

    I would not put public education in the same boat with thievery and prostitution. While it is a system that is fundamentally flawed (at the root), many of the people who work within the system (such as you) are placed there by God for a purpose.

    I do think you can bring your own teaching experience in the public system into harmony with the Kingdom of God, and bring "salt" to the "soup," even though the "soup" itself (as a system) is in bed with foreign gods (whether they realize it or not), and in this sense, what they are doing is "illegitimate."

    By the way, eventually Babylon was eliminated. The Israelites are still around.

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  5. I think you have a great handle on this idea.

    I love the idea that Babylon is no longer around—in His own time and in His own way the Lord is extending His kingdom and plowing all other kingdoms under, like a D-9 bulldozer.

    My job is to live in light of the present spiritual reality of that kingdom in my forays into the government schools knowing that the eventual physical reality is coming, like the grain of mustard seed growing into a huge tree.

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