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, February 26, 2010

Canceled When Adam And Eve Sinned?

Some people believe that when Adam and Eve sinned, they forfeited their role as God’s representative governors over all the Earth. Like ambassadors caught in an act of treason, Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden and removed from their positions as God’s delegated vice-regents over all the earth. “Earth-tending” was no longer the job description of human beings.

Was the First Commission canceled when Adam and Eve sinned?

If this is the case, then we are prisoners on a cursed planet, sent out to wander, spending our days toiling for food. Our work is no longer a way of fulfilling the role God had in mind for us when He created Adam and Eve: “Let Us make man...and let them rule…over all the earth.”

Beyond providing for our own subsistence, then, work on planet Earth could no longer have any significant purpose or meaning.

Some people believe the world (and all it contains) was given over to Satan at the point of Adam and Eve's act of disobedience.

If we embrace the idea that “the earth is the Devil’s and all it contains,” and we accept the notion that our original job description (the First Commission of Genesis 1:26-28) was rescinded at the Fall, we will have a very difficult time seeing how carpentry, software development or truck driving can be "the work of God"--unless perhaps we are building orphanages in Africa, developing software for Bible translation, or driving trucks for the Salvation Army.

I can't say exactly how or when it happened, but as a youth in my church, I picked up the idea that this planet is now Satan’s, and we are living on a sinking ship. Only the work that I would do "for eternity" had any real significance, and that didn't include things like selling shoes or processing insurance claims.

What possible significance could there be for Joe the carpenter in spending his life working for the XYZ construction company, pounding nails into 2 x 4s?

This is why, as I mentioned before, I told my mother when I was twelve years old that there were only two occupations in this life worth doing: being a pastor or a missionary.

Thank God that George Washington Carver didn't see it that way!

We'll visit him next.

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Friday, February 19, 2010

More Than A Paycheck

Last week we suggested that during Jesus’ 17 years as a carpenter, He was doing the work of God, based on the idea that He always did what His Father showed Him to do, whether as a carpenter or an itinerant teacher.

At age 12 Jesus was doing "His Father's business" in Jerusalem, talking with religious leaders in the temple. When He went back home with Mary and Joseph, He continued to do what His Father showed Him to do, "growing in favor with God and man" as a carpenter.

Imagine what might happen if hundreds of millions of followers of Christ around the globe were to go to work tomorrow morning with the conscious awareness that they are doing the work of God as farmers, taxi cab drivers and bankers?

Beyond imagination?

Maybe. So, let’s bring it down to one person—or, better yet, two.

What if you and a friend were to go to work tomorrow morning with the conscious awareness that each of you are doing the work of God, no matter what kind of work you are doing (assuming you have legitimate jobs)?

If you have some difficulty seeing your work as the work of God, I'd like to suggest a helpful resource. It's a curriculum called, "More Than A Paycheck."

"More Than A Paycheck" was written with the conviction that what the work-world needs now is a different kind of stimulus package. What we need is a recovery of "farming theology," "taxi-cab theology" and "banking theology."

Since the topic of the M-TAP curriculum is work of all kinds, it is as applicable for CEOs as it is for homemakers.

"More Than A Paycheck" consists of two texts [God's Pleasure At Work and The Difference One Life Can Make] each with accompanying DVDs that illustrate and augment the text. (The video clips included in this blog are from this curriculum.)

I invite you to join with me in helping followers of Christ to engage in their work as the work of God by forming a small group to complete the “More Than A Paycheck” curriculum.

To view a brief video endorsement by Chuck Colson, click http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWVf4xlbM1o.

You may order the curriculum by visiting http://www.biblicalworldview.com/bookstore.html, or calling toll-free 877-624-0230.

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Friday, February 12, 2010

Carpentry, Too, Is The Work Of God

Ordinarily when we think of the Spirit of God flowing through Jesus, we think of Christ raising someone from the dead, turning water into wine, or healing a blind beggar by the side of the road.

Yes, these are dramatic examples of the Kingdom “actualized,” the Good News "incarnated," and the Kingdom “come.” Clearly, they are examples of "the work of God."

But have you ever stopped to consider that Jesus spent the majority of His days on earth doing work as a carpenter/stonemason? (Some scholars think He may have done both carpentry and stonemason work. Perhaps He was a general contractor.)

So here’s the big question: Did the Kingdom "come” through Christ during His carpentry years, too? When Jesus did carpentry, was He doing the work of God?

By His own testimony, Jesus only did what His Father showed Him to do (John 5:19). Was this the case during seventeen years of doing carpentry work in the little town of Nazareth?

We don’t know much about the life of Christ during His carpentry/stonemason years. But we do know two things: Jesus “grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men" in Nazareth (Luke 2:52), and He spent about six times more time doing carpentry/stonemason work than He did itinerant preacher/teacher work.

It is significant that when Jesus is 30 years old, at His baptism, God the Father audibly proclaims: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased (Matthew 3:16-17).”

Think about this. Before Jesus heals a single person, or feeds 5,000, or preaches to multitudes, His Father is “well pleased” with Him.

The Father does not elaborate on what is so pleasing to Him. Certainly Christ’s character pleases Him. But I suspect He is also pleased with how Jesus spends His time and energy up to that point in life, reconciling carpentry with the will of His Father. For Jesus, carpentry, too, is the work of God.

Justin Martyr (2nd Century historian) claimed that plows made by Jesus were still in existence around the year 120 A.D. If so, Jesus must have done superior work.

But whether it was building houses or making plows, certainly Jesus found God's pleasure in His work, knowing He was doing what His Father showed Him to do: carpentry!

For me, this casts “the work of God” in refreshing light.

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Friday, February 5, 2010

Two Legs Of A Marathon Runner

The Gospel of the Kingdom is Good News for both Heaven and Earth. This is not an "either-or" proposition, but a "both-and" deal.

Participating in the fullest outworking of the Great Commission [that is, participating in the joy of leading non-believers to a point of conversion, and participating in the on-going process of helping believers to observe all that Christ commanded] is like two legs of a marathon runner.

We must certainly share the Good News that Christ took our sins upon Himself at the cross for the personal salvation of human beings. People must hear that Christ died for their sins in order to believe it (Rom. 10:14).

At the same time, we must be diligent to help those who have received Christ as their personal Savior to fulfill the on-going purpose for which they are saved.

A big part of this on-going purpose involves Christ living out His life through His people in the context of their whole lives, which, for nearly half our waking hours, takes place at work.

We begin our new life in Christ through personal reconcilation to God by His grace, putting our trust in Christ alone to save us. And we continue our earthly role of reconciling all things to Him, including our work things, by means of that same grace.

Apart from Him, we can do nothing to save ourselves. And by the same grace that we exercised for our personal salvation, we are to let our salvation be "worked out" [expressed, or demonstrated] in the world around us, even as we're pounding nails, driving taxis or selling real estate. "...for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure (Phil. 2:12-13)." That's grace in action, and it's a 24-hour deal.

Personal salvation is the critical starting point. It is essential to the Gospel of the Kingdom. But we must also bear in mind that we are not just saved from something. We are saved for something. And that "something" has a lot to do with our everyday work in the world.

We are not saved by good works, but we are saved for good works (Eph. 2:1-10). What better place to live out those works than in the workplace?

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