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Posted by on Mar 27, 2013 in Work | 7 comments

Blessing the Status Quo

Blessing the Status Quo

  In an article  Gene Edward Veith wrote for The Gospel Coalition this past Fall, he concluded: “Our very work becomes transformed not in its substance—Christian workers mostly perform the same tasks as non-Christian workers—but in its meaning and in its value.” I’m generally a fan of Veith’s work, but this claim is truly astounding. Veith is claiming that when we truly understand the gospel’s influence on work, we will do the same tasks (and work) as non-Christians, but just feel better about it. That is, if we properly understand the idea vocation, our motivation and attitude will change, but the work itself will be no different. Astounding. With all due respect for my brother in Christ, let me ask some honest questions: Is this not a high priestly blessing of the status quo? Is this perspective not simply baptizing the ways of the world with thinly veiled language of “calling” and “all work is spiritual work?” Should Christians really not be engaged in different kinds of work, and not just in...

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Posted by on Feb 16, 2013 in Theology | 9 comments

How pastors can inadvertently fuel the sacred/secular divide

How pastors can inadvertently fuel the sacred/secular divide

  I recently interviewed David Platt, the pastor of Brook Hills Church in Alabama, for  Christianity Today. We talked about his new book Follow Me: A Call to Die, A Call to Live – a theological follow-up to his bestselling Radical. Though the book had redeeming qualities, I found myself disagreeing with Platt on everything from his use of persecuted Christians in the Middle East as models for American discipleship to using hell as a motivator for evangelism. But perhaps my greatest concern was how he, and many pastors, can inadvertently exacerbate the sacred/secular divide. At several points in the book Platt references persecuted Christians as models for “real discipleship.” At one point he says, “We have brothers and sisters around the world today who are imprisoned, beaten, persecuted, and killed today not because they smile as they serve people,” but because they tell people the gospel with the words. This is true – sharing the gospel is illegal in many countries. But I had to ask, Isn’t “smiling...

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Posted by on Feb 3, 2013 in Work | 3 comments

What we’ve forgotten about vocation

What we’ve forgotten about vocation

  There is a scene in J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic The Fellowship of the Ring where Frodo Baggins meets Lady Galadriel, an elf queen. She leads him to look in small bowl of water, called the mirror of Galadriel, that tells the future. After seeing the demise of the Shire in the mirror, the Lady says about his great task of destroying the Ring, “For if you fail, then we are laid bare to the enemy…For the fate of Lothlórien you are not answerable, but only for doing your own task.” The movie version of this scene adds her saying, “Frodo, if you do not do this, it will not happen.” Frodo was called. He had an appointed task that was heavy with importance, and if he, the Ring Bearer, did not do it, it would never happen. The idea that people are called by God to do a task is deeply biblical. Some examples: Moses was called by God to bring the Israelites out of Egyptian slavery (Ex. 3:7-10)...

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Posted by on Dec 11, 2012 in Work | 0 comments

Your work matters to me

Your work matters to me

   Today is December 1, 2012. Today something happened that I’ll never forget. After the 6pm service at Colorado Community Church, Terri Powell, wife of Pastor Richard Powell, made eye contact. From across the hallway adjacent to the sanctuary, she pointed to me, as if she needed my attention. I proceeded to make small talk: “How are the Powells doing?” A brief, polite, “Good,” was all she gave me. She had another purpose in mind. “I have a word from God for you,” Terri told me. I didn’t know what to say. I just paused, and stared at her. I didn’t know whether to be “weirded out” by charismatic Christians or to pay rapt attention. My Lutheran upbringing didn’t prepare me for this. Since I was so unprepared, I may have given her a strange vibe – all that staring. But despite my awkwardness, she proceeded. “God says to you, ‘Your work matters to me.’ He sees what you are doing. What you are doing matters to him.” I...

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