At Work & Economics 101 & Public Square & Theology 101

A Three-Point Framework for Freedom, Fulfillment, & Flourishing

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Work, rather than being a source of dread and a cause of loathing, can bring delight and joy if we do it right.

Part of “doing it right” is embracing the overarching message of Scripture. What does that mean? Hugh Whelchel explains it this way:

The Bible begins with the creation of all things and ends with the renewal of all things, and in between it offers an interpretation of the meaning of all history. It is the only story that explains the way things were (Creation), the way things are (Fall), the way things could be (Redemption) and the way things will be (Restoration).

This story has gotten lost in our lives. We can and should reclaim it. Doing so is empowering, liberating, and fulfilling.

Christians have understood this story as it relates to church work or missions. We have not understood it as it pertains to the rest of our lives. Let’s embrace all work with the understanding that we are making contributions that carry eternal significance.

The only way we can live this out is if we have a framework for understanding why our work is so important to God.

Here is a three-point framework that can help us:

  • Flourishing is our goal.
  • Stewardship is our call.
  • Freedom is our requirement.

Flourishing is Our Goal

We tend to hold a truncated view of flourishing. Perhaps we don’t consider it an important part of Scripture. This is wrong because flourishing is what God intends for us. In his forthcoming research paper for IFWE on flourishing, Jonathan Pennington describes it this way:

Human flourishing is in fact a key biblical theme woven through the whole canon, one which, when recognized, explains and enhances some foundational aspects of the Bible’s testimony, including the very nature and goal of God’s redemption for us in Christ, who, after all, promises us eternal and abundant life. That is, the Bible, across its whole Christian canon of both Old and New Testaments, is providing its own God-of-Israel-revealed-in-Jesus-Christ answer to the foundational human question of how to flourish and thrive.

Flourishing is our goal. We know we won’t see perfect flourishing until we are reunited with Christ, but we are called to do our part in bringing about higher levels of it. In our hearts we long for flourishing because it is woven into the very fabric of God’s creation.

Stewardship is Our Call

God would not have made his creation and given us the goal of flourishing without giving us the tools to bring it about. Whole-life stewardship is the toolset God has given us in our efforts to fulfill this goal.

Reframing our understanding of stewardship from its current myopic view is crucial. Whole-life stewardship is the intersection of three things:

  • Faith: The living out of theology: all of the Bible applied to all of life.
  • Work: What God has created us to do, and how we apply our creativity to his creation to generate more than what we were born into.
  • Economics: The tools and realities that apply to decision-making, help us think long-term, and help us count the costs of our decisions.

Becoming better stewards and employing the power of economic thinking given to us by God will help us to bring about more flourishing. There will be less waste and consequently more abundance.

Freedom is Our Requirement

We need to live in an environment that elevates our God-given creation and supports our ability to flourish. There are three freedoms that are essential to achieving greater flourishing:

  • Religious freedom: Freedom to practice, observe, and exercise religious beliefs as well as freedom from government-imposed religion.
  • Political freedom: Freedom of agency and freedom from oppressive or immoral government coercion and compulsion.
  • Economic freedom: The freedom to open businesses and trade without substantial or immoral government interference. This trade, which fosters entrepreneurship, is protected by property rights and the rule of law.

This three-point framework, if fully embraced, helps us on our God-ordained journey. Understanding these three tools and the freedoms necessary to use them can help you in your quest for flourishing.

How can you apply this three-point framework to your life? Leave your comments here.

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  • Rick Gilbert

    Great stuff! How do we know when “government” has become more than what we should be obedient to (Romans 13) and “oppressive” and, presumably, deserving of some level of change?

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