Theology 101

Your Work is Dignifying

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The same Cultural Mandate which God gave Adam and Eve also calls 21st century Christians to partner with Him in His work. From the beginning, God is prepared to entrust the “Garden” to man and for us to become His co-workers. Our stewardship role is a call for man to work with and for God. The significance of our work is directly related to its connection with God’s work.

When we answer God’s call to use our gifts in work, whether by making clothes, practicing law, tilling the field, mending broken bodies, or nurturing children, we are participating in God’s work. God does not only send ministers to give the world sermons; He sends doctors to give medicine, teachers to impart wisdom, parents to nurture, mentors to tutor, and so on.

The Cultural Mandate is part of the foundation for our understanding of all of the Scriptural history of revelation, and therefore for our Biblical worldview.

We are more than merely permitted to engage every part of the created order. We are told that the created world is ours, given to us as a trust from God Himself. We are to engage it, announcing and exercising the presence and rule of Christ over every part of it. This includes the arts and the sciences, social work and economics, churches and U2 concerts, The Passion of the Christ and Les Miserables.

Mark Noll in his book The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, asks the question:

Who formed the world of nature (which provides the raw material for physical sciences)? Who formed the universe of human interactions (which is the raw material of politics, economics, sociology, and history)? Who is the source of all harmony, form, and narrative pattern (which is the raw material for art)? Who is the source of the human mind (which is the raw material for philosophy and psychology)? And who, moment by moment, maintains the connection between our minds and the world beyond our minds? God did, God does.

The Cultural Mandate was meant to govern everything Adam and Eve would do after it was given. As the social critic Herbert Schlossberg says in his book, Idols for Destruction, “The ‘salt’ of people changed by the gospel must change the world.”

The gospel of Christ bids us to be faithful to the call of the Cultural Mandate. Richard Pratt also addresses this in his book Designed for Dignity, suming it up this way, “By filling and ruling over the world, we fulfill our true purpose in life. We reach the heights of dignity because we represent and extend the authority of the King of the universe.”

Understanding the importance of the Cultural Mandate in our lives today is the second step in rediscovering the Biblical doctrine of work. The first step we covered is to understand the “Four-Chapter Gospel.” In our next post we will introduce the next step, understanding our work in the Kingdom of God.

Question: Do you feel a sense of dignity in your job or daily tasks? Leave a comment here.

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