At Work & Public Square & Theology 101

What Race Are You Running?

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Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. 

Isaiah 40: 28-31

Chariots of Fire is one of my all-time favorite movies. One great scene features the main character, Eric Liddell, preaching a sermon on a Sunday when he could be running an Olympic race instead. The content of his sermon is Isaiah 40.

What I love about this clip is that it exemplifies how Liddell took a long-term view of his calling. He saw his calling as much more than running one race on one particular day.

Liddell chose to honor the Sabbath, and even though it cost him an important race, he knew in the grand-scheme of things, God was in control. God’s kingdom would still be advanced.

This long-term view of God’s purposes is the view we as Christians need to take.

The social and economic issues that confront us and our leaders today are urgent. The need for Christians to re-engage culture is urgent, too.

As Christians, we must ask ourselves,

What is our role as we seek to be faithful to God in all that we do? How can we not only contribute, but truly play a leadership role in bringing about flourishing in our communities, our cities, our nation, and our world?

At IFWE, we are passionate about helping Christians not only understand, but live out a biblical theology – a worldview – that integrates faith, work, and economics.

We believe that if Christians do this, the result will be a more free society characterized by greater creativity and increased human flourishing. We acknowledged that the work needed to achieve this mission won’t be finished overnight. That’s why we need to take a long-term view.

The integral concepts we believe Christians must embrace to make this vision a reality are the following:

1. God has given us a job description in the Garden of Eden that infuses our work with transcendent meaning.

We are to use our God-given creativity, in and through our work, to be fruitful for the sake of the flourishing of all mankind and the glory of God. As Christians, our work, from that of the trash collector to that of the corporate businessman, is tied back to this job description.

The reason we are to be fruitful in and through our work is because of God’s ultimate long-term plans. Christ will return to restore and make all things new. If we believe this to be true, then it will be reflected in our work.

2. Diversity is a biblical premise of creation.

We are born with different gifts. This means that each of us has a distinct opportunity to contribute to the common good through our skills and our talents.

3. Focusing on our talents allows us to unleash our comparative advantage and bring value to the marketplace by serving others. 

A market-based society, through voluntary trade and absent cronyism, allows us to best serve others by producing goods and services that we were created to produce.

4. An opportunity society is essential to reducing poverty. 

If we care about building a society that reduces poverty, assists the poor, and advances flourishing, we should be concerned about creating a society that generates creativity and entrepreneurship, and allows everyone the opportunity to use their God-given gifts and talents.

5. We need to broaden and strengthen our definition of stewardship. 

Faithfulness to God requires Christians to embrace biblical principles and economic truths which radically alter our concept of stewardship. This includes embracing the marketplace as a God-given setting that allows us to better steward our scarce resources, including our time, energy, talents, and money.

Abraham Kuyper, the twentieth century Dutch politician, theologian, newspaper editor, and educator encouraged Christians to avoid being passive in their calling to be salt and light in the world. We shouldn’t be surprised when we encounter trials and tribulations in our lives and in our work. Like Eric Liddell, we need to strive to be obedient to the biblical principles that guide everything we do, even if it costs us in the short-term. As Kuyper once said,

When principles that run against your deepest convictions begin to win the day, then battle is your calling, and peace has become sin; you must, at the price of dearest peace, lay your convictions bare before friend and enemy, with all the fire of your faith.

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