Francis Schaeffer’s prophetic work A Christian Manifesto features a great quote about the lost biblical doctrine of work and how Christians can revive it in America. In the 1980s, Schaeffer wrote this about the United States:
The basic problem of Christians in this country…in regard to society and in regard to government, is that they have seen things in bits and pieces instead of totals. They have very gradually become disturbed over permissiveness, pornography, the public schools, the breakdown of the family, and finally abortion. But they have not seen this as a totality—each thing being a part, a symptom, of a much larger problem. They have failed to see that all of this has come about due to a shift in worldview—that is, through a fundamental change in the overall way people think and view the world and life as a whole. This shift has been away from a worldview that was at least vaguely Christian in people’s memory toward something completely different.
The reformers radically changed their world in a couple of generations by bringing Christians back to the biblical understanding of work as part of a larger all-encompassing worldview.
As Christians today, we have similar possibilities. To be salt and light in this world, we must commit ourselves to an entire worldview that sees our place in God’s kingdom in the context of all redemptive history.
As we go through our lives in this world we must realize we are truly on a mission from God. Our mission goes beyond evangelizing far-off places or teaching a Sunday school class. It defines the meaning of our entire lives, which necessarily means that it encompasses our vocational work. By answering the call to fulfill our roles in God’s redemptive drama, we find meaning in even the most mundane activities. Along with meaning, we find peace and satisfaction that transcend our greatest expectations.
The biblical doctrine of work has to play a larger part in our worldview if we are to be effective. This is a vision that sees our work as important to God and as a gift from God, bestowed on us to influence the world for his glory and the furtherance of his kingdom.
In Creation Regained, Al Wolters writes:
The obvious implication is that the new humanity (God’s people) is called to promote renewal in every department of creation…We have a redemptive task wherever our vocation places us in his world.
In order to take advantage of our opportunity to further the kingdom in the here and now through our vocational calling, we must rediscover the biblical doctrine of work and be confident that it is the most powerful tool God has given us to have an impact on this present world.