Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Christianity in a Secular Workplace - Part 2

I am reading a pretty heavy read right now, "Don't Waste Your Life" by John Piper. If you've ever read any John Piper you know his books require a lot of time and dedication to reading and understanding. So I've been reading this book for ages but it's so good. This is one point I feel like needs to be shared, and so I'm taking the time to paraphrase some things in this chapter for you. I hope it resonates with you and helps you.

Please note, he makes a point to say that some are called for "spiritual vocations" such as missionaries but that those people could not do their work without people in "secular vocations" working to support them. He does not at all have a condescending attitude towards secular work.

P.S. After writing this blog I have broken it into six parts so it's not as much heavy reading. Please read each different blog post, as it shouldn't take very long now that it's broken up. You can find Part 1 here.

2. We make much of Christ in our secular work by the joyful, trusting, God-exalting design of our creativity and industry. It is helpful to ask how humans are different from beavers and spiders and ants. It helps get at the essence of how humans honor God with their work. These creatures are very hard workers and make very intricate and amazing things. So there must be more to our God-honoring work than such creativity and industry - unless we are willing to say that we glorify God with our work no differently than the animals. We should be busy understanding and shaping and designing and using God's creation in a way that calls attention to his worth and wakens worship.

So how do we differ from the beaver? A beaver subdues his surroundings and shapes a dam for a good purpose, a house. He seems to enjoy his work; and even the diligence and skill of the beaver reflects the glory of God's wisdom. So what is the difference between a human being and a beaver at work? They all work hard; they subdue their surroundings and shape them into amazing structures that serve good purposes. The difference is that humans are morally self-conscious and make choices about their work on the basis of motives that may or may not honor God.

No beaver consciously relies on God. No beaver ponders the divine pattern of order and beauty and makes a moral choice to pursue excellence because God is excellent. No beaver ever pondered the preciousness and purpose of God and decided for God's sake to make a dam for another beaver and not for himself. But humans have all these potentials, because we are created in God's image.

When you work like that - no matter your vocation - you can have a sweet sense of peace at the end of the day. It has not been wasted. God has not created us to be idle. Therefore, those who abandon creative productivity lose the joy of God-dependent, world-shaping, God-reflecting purposeful work. Idleness does not grow in the soil of fellowship with God.

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