Friday, May 30, 2008

The Bigger Picture

The Work Research Foundation (WRF) is a Christian think-tank that encourages Christians to consistently live out their Christianity in every sphere of life. Yesterday evening, my brother Jonathan, the CEO of AIC Limited, gave a lecture at a WRF sponsored meeting at the Toronto Board of Trade that was co-sponsored by the Ivey School of Business. He spoke on what he called "Short-termism: From Flash Wealth to Better Values." Speaking primarily to business people he challenged them to consider the importance of values that are ultimately grounded in the triune God of the Bible. Since no area of life is exempt from the sovereign rule of God, that includes the economics and finances. He correctly pointed out that if we, as a culture, continue to turn our backs on God and Christian values we will suffer negative consequences in every area of life. The freedom to work hard and produce wealth that benefits everyone is not something we should take for granted, but is rather, a gift of God. Living of the moment with no regard for the future, or without regard for other people, brings its own judgment, whereas living to glorify God in all that we do not only brings many blessings in this life but even greater ones in the life to come.

Groups like the WRF are important because they remind us that Christians have something to say beyond the basics of the evangelistic message. Today some are critical of attempts to "redeem the culture" because they believe that in the end this world will be destroyed and in light of eternity the main thing that Christians should be doing is sharing the gospel, by which they mean, the way of salvation. Eschatologically they are correct. This world is going to come to an end one day and with it the kingdoms and economics systems and everything else that comprises what the Bible calls 'Babylon.' Given this sober reality telling people how they might escape the wrath to come is absolutely essential. But if we reduce Christian responsibility to 'gospel evangelism' I think we have gone too far. Additionally, if we do that we have inadvertently made the lives of Christians who are not called to be 'preachers' or 'pastors' or 'evangelists' second-class and redundant beyond supporting and cheering on their favorite preacher. While preachers may enjoy the elevated status such a position entails, I am not sure it is good for the church as a whole, nor does it reflect the balance of the word of God.

Nowhere does the Bible teach us that God calls everyone to proclaim the gospel 'full-time.' By that I mean that although we should always be ready to give a reason for the hope we have, most Christians are not called to preach the word in the same way someone like Timothy was (2 Timothy 4). They are called to be economists, doctors, lawyers, teachers, pilots, electricians, scientists, engineers, bakers, construction workers, police officers, politicians, musicians, entrepreneurs, to name but a few. As such they are to work hard and life quiet lives and they are to do whatever God calls them to do to his glory. However, this is not accomplished by merely working hard so they have something to put in the offering plate on Sunday. It includes that, of course, but more is involved. I believe that God wants them to think and work as Christians in their specific spheres of endeavor. They are to present themselves, and all that they are and do, as living sacrifices to the Lord (Romans 12:1-2). Share the faith they must, but share it as those who understand and model a consistent Christian worldview and not as those who give the impression they are only concerned to 'save souls.' This larger view of things will encourage more Christians to be involved in life as Christians and to feel that they have something important to contribute as they demonstrate the grace and power of God's grace in their lives. For the Christian 'short-termism' is always inadequate because in the end we believe that God is sovereign over all of life and when his plan of salvation comes to fruition he will redeem for himself a new humanity, which, will forever bear his re-created image in all its glory and complexity.

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