The Gospel & work (Every Good Endeavor - Part 3a)

People tend to make sense of things by attaching it to a storyline or narrative. A story has an account of how life should be, an explanation of how it got thrown off balance, and some proposed solution to put life right again. When we discussed worldviews in previous chapters, we were essentially talking about a master narrative for how we live our lives.

When someone adopts a worldview, they are putting themselves into a larger story that assumes the world would be a better place if more people were doing what you were doing. Our worldview will majorly impact our work because it will shape our day-to-day interactions and decisions. While the rest of the world pushes a worldview focuses on oneself, self-expression, etc., the gospel teaches that the meaning of life is to love God and love others. Instead of focusing on ourselves, we are to have a servanthood attitude.

Make sure to come back next week as we look at how the gospel creates a unique narrative, different than the other worldviews. In the coming weeks we will also discuss how the gospel impacts different industries. Until then, take some time to look at your work and how your worldview impacts your actions and decisions at your job.

What makes the Christian worldview unique to other worldviews? Christianity doesn't locate the problem with the world in any part of the world or any particular group of people. Instead, the problem with the world is found in sin itself -- which infects EVERYONE. The solution to the world's sin problem is found through God's grace. Other worldviews identify problems that separate the world into "villians" and "heroes" and finds the solution in something that isn't powerful enough to solve the problem.

The Christian storyline or worldview is: creation (plan), fall (problem), redemption and restoration (solution). What's incredible about this worldview is the solution isn't based on an imperfect person's actions! Having the "gospel worldview" should affect everything in our lives, including our work.

What are some worldviews you see in your field of work? Next week, we're going to look at how the gospel can impact various fields including business, journalism, higher education, and medicine.

Oftentimes, the implications of the gospel worldview and other worldviews are subtle. The Christian worldview operates beyond doing overtly Christian activities. Christians in the workplace don't have to constantly be speaking about the Bible in their work. This is why we wanted to start these Saturday morning studies! We don't all work for a Christian company. Maybe where we work or the field we're in doesn't hold Christian values. This week we're going to discuss some specific fields and how Christians in the field can be different. Although we're only talking about a few specifics, the general idea can be applied in other fields.

In business, common idols include money and power. Corporate profits and influenced can be a healthy means to a good end, when stewarded wisely. The difference Christian employees or business owners have is that it is not our identity, our salvation, or our source of security and comfort. We can choose to honor God, love our neighbors, and serve the common good through our work. Sometimes having higher ethics will mean a loss of margin, but when money isn't the sole goal, this shouldn't be a problem! Don't be afraid to stand up and ask questions if the company is doing something questionable.

Journalists should be reporting the facts objectively; however, the choice of what is reported on as news reflects someone's values and beliefs about what is important. If the field of journalism was objective, we wouldn't be able to identify which news sources tend to be progressive and which ones are conservative. How can Christian journalists be different? The gospel worldview doesn't idolize or demonize anything in creation. Needing to blame some aspect of creation is a human impulse. A Christian journalist can be more open-minded and even-handed in their reporting and writing by having this different perspective.

Last week we discussed how a Christian worldview should impact the fields of business and journalism. This week we're going to continue the conversation in the fields of higher education and medicine as we wrap up this chapter (and pause the book study for the rest of the year).

Higher education creates greater inequities in society. The best education, which typically only upper-class individuals can afford, breeds "smugness and self-satisfaction" because they're being taught that others who could not get in are beneath them. The accessibility of high-quality education isn't always available to all socioeconomic statuses. You then have the "elite" believing they are better than others because they could afford to go to a more expensive university. The Christian worldview knows that all wealth, talent, and power are a gift from God -- what we have is not our own. Christian educators should be motivated by the gospel and find ways to resist the economic pressures that are working against the quality and accessibility of higher education today.

"To let the gospel of Jesus shape how we work means to heed the influence of both the psychological idols within our hearts as well as the sociological idols in our culture and profession." The field of medicine is a good example of this. Some problems Christians in the field face include, losing sight of their identity, temptation to feel superior to those in other fields, and cultural pressure to see patients as "just a body." There are several things a Christian in the medical field can have a gospel focus. Staying grounded in their identity in Christ and having humility. Another big one is bearing the totality of patient, seeing patients as more than just bodies.

Regardless of what field of work you are in, I want to leave you with this question to reflect on as we go into the new year: What opportunities are there in my profession for (a) serving individual people, (b) serving society at large, (c)serving my field of work, (d) modeling competence and excellence, and (e) witnessing to Christ?

We’re happy to be back to our regular Saturday morning study! We’re jumping back in where we left off. This week we’re discussing the idea that everyone participates in God’s work – Christians and non-Christians. Oftentimes, this is misunderstood.

In the last chapter (social media posts from earlier December), we discussed how the Christian worldview enables believers to work in ways distinct from those around them; however, this does NOT mean non-Christians cannot do good work or good deeds. This also does not mean that everything a Christian does at their job must be different from everything a nonbeliever does.

It's important to remember these two things:

  1. ALL human beings are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-28)
  2. ALL human beings are given their talents and skills for work in the world by God (1 Corinthians 7:17)

Because of these two facts, we should not be surprised that many unbelievers can do great work – sometimes even better work than believers. Make sure you come back next week for some of the dangers of having an unbalanced emphasis on worldview.

The biblical conception of work, as a vehicle for God's loving provision for the world, is essential. There are some dangers if we have an unbalanced emphasis on worldview in work.

The first danger of thinking of work only in worldview terms, and not in terms of God's providence and love is subtly implying that the Bible's view of work is less relevant to those of the working class. While Christians should work with different inner motives than their non-Christian coworkers (which can make a difference in quality, spirit, and honesty of the worker), it does not mean a Christian will produce one thing differently from a non-Christian. For example, someone building an airplane engine should make it the same regardless of if they are a believer or not.

The other danger is Christians might undervalue the good work done by nonbelievers. We don't want elitism and sectarianism to creep into our approach to work.

Have you ever caught yourself undervaluing the good works of others because they have differing beliefs to you?

Throughout this whole study, there's been several mentions of balance. Last week, we specifically talked about the dangers of having an unbalanced emphasis on worldview at work. This can be tied into what we're going to discuss this week: dualism.

Dualism is a term used to describe a separation between the sacred and the secular. There are two common dualistic approaches often seen by Christians:

  1. If our work is to please Christ, it must be done overtly in His name. The feeling that you have to do things that explicitly mention Jesus. Some examples include teaching at a Christian school instead of public school, working in an organization where everyone is a Christian, etc.
  2. In contrast, this other approach is more prevalent: Christians think of themselves as Christians only within church activity. These are the believers that act different on Sundays (and maybe during a mid-week church activity) but are different the rest of the week.

There are issues with both forms of dualism. The first one fails to grasp the importance of what we have in common with the rest of the world. The second on fails to grasp the importance of what is distinctive about the Christian worldview. This study is supposed to help us integrate our faith and work. To do this, we need to move away from both dualistic approaches and find balance in the Christian worldview.

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West Point, VA
Courtney is SEM's Marketing Manager. She joined SEM full-time in 2016. Outside of SEM, Courtney enjoys hiking with her golden retriever, Mya and volunteering at LifePointe Christian Church.