You know that. I know that. People know that.
They want justice.
They want peace.
They want people to have clean water and mosquito nets and new shoes and literacy and no abuse and access to education–and the list goes on.
They want things to be the way “they should be.”
But have you ever asked, “Where does the ‘should’ come from? Why is it ‘should?’”
We live in a world that simultaneously says “You can’t tell me what I should or should not do,” yet has very strong opinions about what we should all do or believe.
Apart from God, there is no “should” except human preference. But a godless “should” is incoherent. Why should I privilege your preference over mine?
If I prefer fulfillment through clubbing endangered animals and depleting the ozone layer, why shouldn’t I do that?
Will a broken world be put right through all of us pursuing our own sense of fulfillment?
I don’t think so.
The “should” comes from God. The reason we seek justice, peace, and flourishing comes from God. We know what we should do because God has told us. He’s revealed it to us in his Word.
That “should” is the nature of our work as a follower of Christ, and it is summed up by the phrase “the Kingdom of God.” Jesus repeatedly referred to it. The Kingdom is wherever the reign and rule and shalom of God has broken in to our broken world. The Kingdom takes back what rightfully belongs to God himself.
The Kingdom of God is also coming, Jesus repeatedly said, because God has launched a rescue mission to save his creation. He is starting with humanity, and he is doing that through Jesus. And he continues to do that through those who are redeemed by Christ and bear his name.
This rescue mission is exhaustive and comprehensive. God is rescuing his creation, one inch at a time. Inch by inch.
As Abraham Kuyper famously said, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!’” (Abraham Kuyper, Bratt, p.195) This is a bold statement! Every square inch, in all of creation, belongs to King Jesus! He claims it for himself, as his own. It’s “mine!” He doesn’t say this in a petty or selfish way, like the seagulls in Finding Nemo. Jesus cries out “Mine!” with the same voice that thundered at Sinai and calmed the storm over Galilee. Authority. Power. Every square inch rightfully belongs to him, as Creator, Redeemer, and King.
The implications of this are simply massive. Christians have an obligation to be an influence for Kingdom good in each of the cultural spheres. Christians should faithfully engage in all the spheres of life; in politics/government, education, art, and more.
If you’re working with people across many spheres–and I hope you are–here are a few things you can do to help them understand the “should” of Kingdom work:
- Make it about Jesus. Speak and reflect often on Christ’s supremacy, Lordship, and ownership of ALL things, not just the “spiritual” things.
- Affirm “ordinary” work as Kingdom work. Whether bankers or custodians, teachers or machinists, engineers or librarians, students or secretaries, our people need to hear that their work is Kingdom work. It is pregnant with Kingdom possibilities, if it is consciously done with, by, and for Jesus. This infuses our everyday work with significance and purpose–and its something our people don’t hear enough!
- Use “real life” examples. When preaching, teaching, and meeting 1-on-1, use stories, examples, and illustrations from outside the vocational ministry world. I love telling stories of pastors and missionaries as much as the next guy. They’re what I read and find compelling. But if I have the choice of telling a story about a pastor struggling with work-life balance, vs. say a Patrick Lencioni (author and business consultant) struggling with work-life balance, I’ll choose the latter. It helps people see how faith and work connect in the “real world.” (I hate that expression, but you get what I mean).
These doesn’t always come naturally. We need help understanding the “should.” If you’re anywhere near central PA, consider attending the Faith, Life, and Work Conference
November 6-7. We’ll be diving deep into this topic of Kingdom work, and how we can connect our faith with our work and everyday life. More info on keynotes and breakout sessions here