At Work & Theology 101

Four Truths about Reality and Human Nature That Relate to Faith, Work, and Economics

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It happened more than a month ago, so it has largely shifted out of the public eye. However, the long-term effects of a tragic plane crash in the French Alps are, no doubt, bringing a heavy load of sorrow to the families of those who died when the plane descended into the mountainside that day.

There are still questions about why the co-pilot apparently crashed the plane. Those may be answered in time, but we may never find out the full story.

Even if we never know everything about the events of the day, a tragedy like this reminds us of some truths about reality and human nature that also relate to faith, work, and economics.

The Truth of Being Interconnected

First, in the web of relationships in the world, we are more interconnected with others than we realize.

Certainly there are few cases illustrating this as plainly as one person controlling the safety of hundreds. However, in many of our daily relationships within our community, our workplace, and our family, each decision we make has the potential to impact many others. In turn, their decisions have the strong potential to impact us.

The poet and priest, John Donne, illustrates this in his poetic reflection on human interrelatedness:

No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.

We are interconnected in so many ways, which should lead us to make decisions that benefit the broader community and not ourselves. It should teach us to value the people around us and, in love, help them blossom into who God made them to be. Our welfare may depend on them.

The Truth of Trust in Relation to Common Grace

Second, related to the first point, there are many cases where we trust in other people’s goodwill. This is part of the doctrine of common grace. Although every aspect of human nature is impacted in some way by sin, God graciously keeps people from being as bad as they can be through his sustaining grace.

We trust doctors, bus drivers, construction workers, and others to do what they do well. Given the pervasive effects of the fall and the sin we see in our own hearts as regenerate believers, it is astonishing there aren’t more cases of corruption and malfeasance in the world.

We should be truly grateful for God’s common grace that keeps us from being as sinful as we could be. We can also appreciate systems that reward trustworthiness.

The Truth of Our Dependence on God

Third, the world is more dependent on God’s sustaining grace than we recognize on a day to day basis. Christ holds all things together (Colossians 1:17). Paul even notes many of the Greeks understood how much the world depends on a creator (Acts 17:28).

On a daily basis, though, we often forget how dependent we are on God.

We make our plans and do our work each day. We relate to others and thank them for their work. These are all good things, but all good things find their ultimate value in God. Tragedies in the world, both natural and human evils, should cause us to thank God for sustaining us.

The Truth of Restoration

Fourth, sorrow and tragedies in the world should remind us that we Christians have hope beyond this world in the coming renewal of all things.

Paul reminds the Romans that the present sufferings in this world are minute in comparison to the glory that is to be revealed when all things are renewed (Romans 8:18–23). Likewise, the image of the new heavens and earth in Revelation 21 is of a place with no sorrow. Things will work like they should some day, and all relationships will perfectly reflect God’s goodness.

The hope of the coming renewal of all things should sustain us when we hear news of remote tragedies, when we go through our own personal losses, and when we struggle against the thistles and thorns in our own daily work.

Even in our context, which often seems very individualistic, occasional circumstances break through to remind us how reliant we are on each other.

While we should mourn with those who mourn, we can also take time in these circumstances to thank God for his goodness in giving his common grace. We can rejoice with thanks that our personal and economic relationships are as gracious as they are when they could be so much worse.

It should also remind us to be faithful in our daily work, since more than our paycheck depends on our efforts each day.

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