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, October 3, 2014

The Good Works Of Biologists And Car Mechanics?

This photo shows our oldest son at work, radiotracking tagged fish. He works for the State of Washington Department of Fisheries, spending his days doing the highly scientific and demanding work of fish management. Is he doing the work of God? Is he doing something God wants done in the earth? Is this work really important to the Lord? Is this part of Christ's purpose for humans today? If a young man came to you for advice, saying he wanted to go into "full-time Christian service," would fish management be on your list of possibilities?

A slow reading of the First Commission of Genesis 1:26-28 will cause most people to conclude that ruling over fish, as our son Nathanael does, is an outworking of the governing role and function God planned for human beings when, before creating Adam, He declared:  "...let them rule...over all the earth." This includes trout and salmon. 

Would it be a stretch to say that in governing well over fish, Nathanael is doing a "good work" which God "prepared beforehand for him to do," as Ephesians 2:10 puts it? A decade ago, I would have said, "You've got to be kidding!" But today I say, "Why not?"   

Why should I limit my scope of "good works" to helping old ladies with groceries, and volunteering time at the mission on Saturday? Does a biblical "good work" only qualify as "good work" when it's done without pay? 

When Jesus said, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven," was He excluding good work done by a follower of Christ at the Boeing Company, making airliners beautiful and safe, or at Starbucks, making a latte that's a work of art?

I believe God calls us to share the Good News of salvation with those who don't know Christ. I believe we are saved by faith alone, and that good works don't earn us eternal life. But while we aren't saved by good works, we are saved for good works. Can this include the good works of biologists and car mechanics? Or longshoremen and janitors?

Ask Josh Kelly about this. After serving as a full-time pastor for 14 years, his church ran out of money, which led him to take a job at Starbucks. Here Josh asked himself, "How spiritual is making $4 lattes? What is the eternal value of blending up an extra-caramel Caramel Frappuccino?" 

But Josh realized that mopping the Starbucks floor was part of his call to rule over dirt. And in the process, Josh discovered the Holy Spirit was also guiding his conversations with co-workers and customers. He learned about the struggles of people in the "real world," and was able to share God's love with those who walked through the door, from the panhandler, to the gay couple, the businesswoman, and the retiree. 

For the full story, read Josh Kelly's new book, Radically Normal.

Some people actually get paid for doing this sort of thing! But Nathanael has the added bonus of knowing he's doing what God created and commissioned humans to do. Managing trout! Like this beauty from the Cedar River. If this isn't God's work, I'll eat my tackle box.

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