Theology 101

Kingdom Work

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The separation of faith and calling by Christians, along with the loss of the Biblical doctrine of work, had a devastating effect on the landscape of American culture during the 20th century.

As Christians today, we are once again called to integrate our faith and our work. We are to use our vocational calling to influence our communities, our nation, and the world. Theologian Geerhardus Vos described it this way:

 [Christ] cannot be quiet and inactive in us. His kingdom is only fully manifest when we are so governed by His Word and Spirit that we are wholly subject to Him. Christ is the anointed King, not only over His church, but also He has been given to her as Head over all things. Hence, in the activity of believers, by which His rule is realized, lies also the urgency to work in all spheres of life. For the Reformed believer Christianity, by virtue of its covenantal character, is a restless, recreating principle which never withdraws itself from the world, but seeks to conquer it for Christ.

Note the beautiful balance in Vos’ words, as pointed out by my friend Bill Edger:

Our work is in every sphere of life. We are cultural beings. Yet no work is an end in itself. Our cultural involvements are the reflection of the deeper reality of our relationship with God.  

When seen from this prospective, each one of our vocational callings is Kingdom work.

Jesus announced at the beginning of his ministry that, “The time has come. The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15).

We have already seen how Christians in the last century truncated the four-chapter redemptive story to two chapters, Fall and Redemption, putting the emphasis of the Christian life on salvation. While we do not want to under-emphasize the importance of salvation, we must acknowledge that this is not all there is to the gospel.

Tim Keller once said that if he had to define the Gospel in a single statement, he might do it like this:

Through the person and work of Jesus Christ, God fully accomplishes salvation for us, rescuing us from judgment for sin into fellowship with him, and then restores the creation in which we can enjoy our new life together with him forever.

Without understanding that Christ died on the cross not only to save us but also to restore all things, Christians get the impression that nothing much about this world matters. Grasping the full implication of the gospel should make Christians interested in both evangelistic conversions, as well as service to our neighbor and working for peace and justice in the world.

Cornelius Plantinga, in his book, Engaging God’s World, suggests as Christians we must:

 . . . prepare to add one’s own contribution to the supreme reformation project, which is God’s restoration of all things that have been corrupted by evil. The Old Testament word for this restoration of peace, justice, and harmony is shalom; the New Testament phrase for it is ‘the coming of the kingdom.’

You can find the Old Testament’s teaching about shalom especially in the prophets, and you can find the New Testament’s teaching about the kingdom especially in the Gospels and in some passages of St. Paul’s epistles.

According to Scripture, God plans to accomplish these projects through Jesus Christ, who started to make “all things new,” and who will come again to finish what he started. In the meantime, God’s Spirit inspires a worldwide body of people to join this mission of God.

The Kingdom of God is to encompass all spheres of life, especially our work. As agents of that Kingdom, we serve as salt and light wherever the Spirit leads us.

Emphasizing this point, Douglas Groothuis writes in his book Truth Decay that,

 As Christians incarnate their world view in public life they help reverse truth decay in myriad ways. In the midst of the fragmentation of postmodern pluralism, the Christian sees all things as unified in God’s overarching plan for the universe, summed up in the supremacy of Christ. All has meaning in reference to that fixed—and living—point (Col 1:15-20).

How do you see your work as ushering in the Kingdom of God?

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