Following Jesus in the Globalized Marketplace (LOP 62 C)

Editor’s Note: This is an edited version of a paper delivered at the Consultation of the Lausanne Theology Working Group in partnership with the WEA Theological Commission, ‘Following Jesus in our Broken World’, held at Limuru, Kenya, 12-16 February 2007. © Lausanne Theology Working Group.

This paper is not the practical wisdom of a seasoned veteran of the modern secular workplace, but some biblical and ethical reflections from the margins. They come from one who has taken the coward’s route of a life-time working in Christian pastoral and teaching contexts and who has pro-found and genuine admiration for those who struggle daily to be followers of Jesus in the rough and tumble of ‘the world at work’.

I am using the term ‘marketplace’ to mean ‘the public arena’ in the widest sense. That is, I am not thinking only of ‘the market’ in a purely economic sense, but the whole world of work – trade, professions, law, government, education, industry – wherever human beings engage together in productive projects. The Old Testament word was ‘the gate’ – the public square where people met and did their business together, of whatever kind.

I. God and the Marketplace

Is God interested in the marketplace? Many Christians seem to operate on the everyday assumption that he is not. Or at least, that God is not interested in the marketplace for its own sake, as distinct from interested in it as a con-text for evangelism. God, it would seem, cares about the church and its affairs, about getting people to heaven, not about how society and its public places are conducted on earth. The result can be a rather dichotomized Christian life in which we have to invest most of the time that matters (our working lives) in a place and a task that we think does not matter to God, while struggling to find opportunities to give some left-over time to the only thing we think does matter to God—evangelism.1

Yet the Bible clearly and compre-hensively, in both Testaments, portrays God as intensely interested in the human market place—interested, involved, and in charge.

1. He created it

Work is God’s idea. Genesis chapters 1 and 2 give us our first picture of the biblical God as a worker – thinking, choosing, planning, executing, evaluating. So when God decided to create humankind in the image and likeness of God, what else could humans be but workers, reflecting in their working lives something of the nature of God? Specifically, God laid upon human beings the task of ruling the earth (Genesis 1), and of serving and keeping it (Genesis 2). This enormous task required not only the complementarity of our male-female gender identities, for mutual help, but also implies some other fundamental economic and eco-logical dimensions to human life.

God has given us a plane with vast diversity of resources scattered all over its surface. There is, therefore, a natural necessity for trade and exchange between groups living in different places, to meet common needs. That task in turn necessitates economic relationships, and so there is the need for fairness and justice through-out the social and economic realms. There needs to be justice both in the sharing of the raw resources with which we work, and in the distribution of the products of our work. The biblical witness is that all of this great human endeavour is part of God’s intention for human life on earth.

Work, then, is not the result of ‘the curse’. Of course, all work is now affected in myriad detrimental ways by our fallenness. But work itself is of the essence of our human nature. We were created to be workers, like God, the Worker. The so-called ‘cultural man-date’, then, is a valid concept. All that we are and do in the public sphere of work, whether at the level of individual jobs, or of the family, or whole communities, right up to whole cultures and civilizations over historical time, is connected to our createdness and is there-fore of interest to our Creator. The marketplace is of course polluted and distorted by our sinfulness. But then that is true of all spheres of human existence. It is not a reason to excuse our-selves from the public arena, any more than the fact that sickness and death are ultimately the results of sin is a rea-son for Christians not to enter hospitals or funeral parlours.

So the first question we need to ask those who seek to follow Jesus in the market-place is: Do you see your work as nothing more than a necessary evil, or the context for evangelistic opportunism, or do you see it as a means of glorifying God through participating in his purposes for creation and therefore having intrinsic value?

2. He audits it

We are all familiar with the function of an auditor, who provides independent, impartial and objective scrutiny of a company’s activities and claims. The auditor has access to all documents and evidence. To him all books are opened, all decisions known, and from him no secrets are hidden. That, at least, is the theory. According to the Bible, God is the independent judge of all that goes on in the marketplace. The Old Testament speaks repeatedly of Yahweh as the God who sees and knows and evaluates. This is true in the most universal sense, and of every individual (Psalm 33:13-15).

But it is specifically true of the public square. Israel was reminded repeatedly that God calls for justice ‘in the gate’, which is in contemporary terms, the marketplace (Amos 5:12-15). Further-more, God hears the kind of talk that would go on either in the hidden places of the greedy heart, or in the confidence of a business deal. Such exploitative talk is condemned by the prophet (Amos 8:4-7). And for those who think that God is confined to his temple and sees only what goes on in religious observance, comes the shock that he has been watching what goes on the rest of the week in public (Jer. 7:9-11).

God is the auditor – the independent inspector of all that happens in the public arena. What he therefore demands, as auditors should, is complete integrity and transparency. This is the standard that is expected of human judges in their exercise of public office. The case of Samuel is revealing, as he defends his public record and calls God as witness – as his divine auditor (1 Sam. 12:1-5).

Samuel said to all Israel, ‘I have listened to everything you said to me and have set a king over you. Now you have a king as your leader. As for me, I am old and gray, and my sons are here with you. I have been your leader from my youth until this day. Here I stand. Testify against me in the presence of the LORD and his anointed. Whose ox have I taken? Whose donkey have I taken? Whom have I cheated? Whom have I oppressed? From whose hand have I accepted a bribe to make me shut my eyes? If I have done any of these, I will make it right.’

‘You have not cheated or oppressed us’, they replied. ‘You have not taken anything from anyone’s hand’.

Samuel said to them, ‘The LORD is witness against you, and also his anointed is witness this day, that you have not found anything in my hand.’

‘He is witness’, they said.

The second question we need to ask then, of all those who seek to follow Jesus in the marketplace is: Where, in all your activity, is the deliberate acknowledgment of, and submission to, the divine auditor?

3. He governs it

We often speak of ‘market forces’, and of the whole realm of business and politics, as if they were all independent as ‘a law unto themselves’. ‘The Market’, often with a capital M, is objectified and almost given a kind of divine autonomous power. At any rate, at a personal level, we feel we are at the mercy of forces beyond our individual control, forces determined by millions of other people’s choices.

The Bible has a more subtle view. Yes, human public life is made up of human choices, for which human beings are responsible. So in that sense, all that happens in the market-place is a matter of human action, choice and moral responsibility. Yet at the same time, the Bible puts it all under God’s sovereign government. By stressing the first as well as the second, the Bible avoids sliding into fatal-ism or determinism. It affirms both sides of the paradox: humans are morally responsible for our choices and actions and their public consequences; yet God retains sovereign control over final outcomes and destinies.

Many Bible stories illustrate this. The story of Joseph oscillates between the sphere of the family and the public arena at the highest level of state power—in relation to political, judicial, agricultural, economic and foreign affairs. All actors in the stories are responsible for their own motives, words and deeds—whether good or evil. But the perspective of the author of Genesis, through the words of Joseph, is that God mysteriously governed the whole sequence of events (Gen. 50:19-20).

The stories of Esther and of Daniel would affirm the same perspective. In all three cases, believers in the living God are at work in a public arena that is ‘pagan’—in the sense of, outside the covenant community. The human political authority in all three cases bears no intentional allegiance to Yahweh the God of Israel. Yet in all three cases, it is the will of Yahweh that governs the outcomes of their lives and decisions.

Moving from narrative to prophetic texts, it is significant that when prophets turn their attention to the great empires of their day, they affirm Yahweh’s government as much over them as over his covenant people Israel. Furthermore, all their public works are included, the marketplace as much as the military. Isaiah 19:1-15 puts the whole of Egypt under God’s judgment, including its religion, irrigation, agriculture, fisheries, textile industry, politicians and universities. Ezekiel 26-28 is a sustained lament for the great trading city of Tyre, while chapters 29-32 pour similar doom on the great imperial culture of Egypt. In both cases, the public marketplace of economic and political power is in focus.

Daniel 4 portrays the arrogance of Nebuchadnezzar gloating over his city: ‘Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?’ (Dan. 4:30). But the verdict of God was that his whole building project was on the backs of the poor and oppressed, as Daniel pointed out. ‘Therefore, O king, be pleased to accept my advice: Renounce your sins by doing what is right, and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed. It may be that then your prosperity will continue’ (Dan. 4:27). But, having refused to humble himself, Nebuchadnezzar found himself humiliated into a more sober frame of mind. And the lesson he had to learn is the one we are pressing here: God governs the public square, along with all else. Or, in Daniel’s more graphic words, ‘Heaven rules…the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes’ (Dan. 4:26, 32).

So the third question we have to ask of those who follow Jesus in the marketplace is: How do you perceive the governance of God in the marketplace (which is another way of seeking the kingdom of God and his justice), and what difference does it make when you do?

4. He redeems it

A common Christian assumption is that all that happens here on earth is nothing more than temporary and transient. Life here is nothing more than the vestibule for eternity, so it doesn’t really matter very much. To this negative comparison is added the idea, drawn from a mistaken interpretation of the language of 2 Peter 2, that we are headed for total obliteration of the whole earth and indeed of all the physical creation. With such a prospect, what eternal value can possibly attach to the work we do in the world’s marketplace here and now?2

But the Bible presents a very different prospect. God plans to redeem all that he has made, and included within that will be the redemption of all that we have made with what God first made – that is, our use of creation within the great cultural mandate. Of course, all that we have done has been tainted and twisted by our sinful, fallen human nature. And all that flows from that source will have to be purged and purified by God. But that is exactly the picture we have in both Old and New Testaments. It is a vision of redemption, not of obliteration.

Isaiah 65:17-25 is a glorious portrayal of the new creation – a new heaven and a new earth. It looks for-ward to human life that is no longer subject to weariness and decay; in which there will be fulfilment in family and work; in which the curses of frustration and injustice will be gone for ever; in which there will be close and joyful fellowship with God; and in which there will be environmental harmony and safety. The whole of human life, private, family and public, will be redeemed and restored to God-glorifying productiveness.

The New Testament carries this vision forward in the light of the redemption achieved by Christ through the cross, and especially in the light of the resurrection. Paul comprehensively and repeatedly includes ‘all things’ not only in what God created through Christ, but what he plans to redeem through Christ. The whole of creation is to be redeemed through the cross (Col. 1:16-20).

Because of that plan of redemption, the whole of creation can look forward to the future, just as we look forward to our resurrection bodies (Rom. 8:19-21). Even the text often used to speak of the destruction of the cosmos (when in fact, in my view, it is actually portraying redemptive purging, not total obliteration), immediately goes on to the expectation of a justice-filled new creation (2 Pet. 3:13).

And the final vision of the whole Bible is not of us escaping from the world to some ethereal paradise, but rather of God coming down to live with us once again in a purged and restored creation, in which all the fruit of human civilization will be brought into the city of God (Rev. 21:24-27). The ‘splendour’, ‘glory’ and ‘honour’ of kings and nations, of which this text speaks, are constituted by the combined product of generations of human beings whose lives and efforts will have generated the vast store of human cultures and civilizations. All this will be purged, redeemed and laid at the feet of Christ, for the enhancement of the life of eternity in the new creation.

All human history, then, which takes place in the marketplace of human public interaction, will be redeemed and fulfilled in the new creation – not just abandoned or destroyed. All human work, then, in that marketplace, has its own value and eternal significance, not just because of our understanding of creation and the mandate it laid upon us, but also because of the new creation and the eschatological hope it sets before us. With such a hope, we can heartily follow Paul’s exhortation, knowing that ‘the work of the Lord’ does not mean just ‘religious’ work, but any work done for as unto the Lord, which includes even the manual labour of slaves: Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain (1 Cor. 15:58).

And so a fourth question arises for the follower of Jesus in the marketplace: In what ways is my daily labour transformed by the knowledge that it is all contributing to that which God will one day redeem and include within his new creation?

II. Saints and the Marketplace

If that, then, is God’s view of the public life and work of the marketplace, what ought to be the attitude, role and mission of God’s people in that sphere? Certainly not one of disengagement.

1. We are called to engagement

This is not to deny that there may be particular callings that require individuals or communities to pursue a distinctive devotional, pastoral or missionary calling. But even they are not on some other planet. They participate in the global marketplace simply by being human in God’s earth. Monastic com-munities farmed land, tended the sick, and brewed beer. Even the Amish utilize the human invention of the wheel.

The Old Testament, as we have seen, contains notable examples of believers engaged in the public arena, and in the service of ‘pagan’ powers, especially Joseph and Daniel. But the New Testament also urges Christians to be good citizens and good workers, and thereby to be good witnesses. Work is still a creational good.

It seems that some people in the churches Paul planted had come to the view that ordinary work was no longer of any value, and so they became lazy, spiritualizing their idleness with fervid expectations of Christ’s return. Paul shared their convictions about Christ’s return, but not their work-shy opting out of normal human responsibilities. He urged them to go about their normal daily work to earn their living (1 Thess. 4:11-12; 5:14). Paul had no hesitation in appealing to his own example in this regard, as one who had supported him-self from his own labour in the market-place (2 Thess. 3:6-13).

Paul’s frequent exhortations to ‘do good’ should not be construed merely as ‘being nice’. The term also carried a common social connotation of public service and benefaction.3Christians should be among those who bring the greatest public good to the marketplace, and thereby commend the biblical gospel. And we do so, fully aware of the task of creation which we share with all fellow-human beings. Thus, we serve our Creator in serving all his creatures. There is a pressing need in the church today to recover a more biblical understanding of service, or in its more ‘religious’ sounding equivalent, of ‘ministry’. Sadly, we still suffer from the       legacy of pietism and a dichotomized worldview, in which ‘ministry’ is confined to that which is full-time paid work within the church, as pastor, evangelist or missionary. But ministry, or servanthood, is what we are all called to in all of life.

In Romans 13 Paul speaks of governing authorities as ‘God’s servants’. He uses both the words that are other-wise also used for ministers in the church – diakonos (twice in verse 4) and leitourgos (in verse 6). Political service is service of God. In Acts 6, the same word is used both of the service of the word, to which the apostles were called, and the serving of tables, for which the Seven were appointed (diakonein, diakonia). One was a teaching ministry, the other a social ministry. Both were ministries – one was a priority for apostles, the other a priority for those selected to do it.

And in the letters of Paul, one does not get the impression that new converts suddenly left the occupations they had in the secular world. On the contrary, Paul seems to envisage most of them still there, working and earning, paying their taxes and doing good in the community. One imagines the Philippian jailor back at his post; Lydia carrying on her textile business; and Erastus somehow combining his job as director of public works with helping Paul.

2. We are called to distinctiveness

So we are to be engaged in the global marketplace. But we are to do so as saints in the marketplace. We are those who are called to be holy, which means different or distinctive. The calling to distinctiveness is an essential part of the faith of Old Testament Israel. Israel was to be different from the empire they had left and the culture they were entering (Lev. 18:3-5).

This essential distinctiveness is what holiness actually meant for Israel. It was grounded in the holiness (ie., the distinctive otherness) of Yahweh, and it was to be worked out ethically in everyday, ordinary, social life. Leviticus 19, beginning with the demand that Israel should be holy as the LORD their God is holy, goes on to articulate a whole range of contexts in which that holy difference is to be seen – contexts that include personal, familial, social, judicial, agricultural, and commercial realms.

a) Moral distinctiveness

The distinctiveness of God’s people in the Bible is not merely religious (we happen to worship a different god from most other people), but ethical (we are called to live by different standards). The twin sayings of Jesus about being salt and light in the world (Mt. 5:13-16) are still crucial insights into what it means to follow Jesus in the marketplace. At least four implications can be discerned.4 First, if disciples are to be salt and light, then the world must be corrupt and dark. The whole point of the metaphors depends on this contrast. Jesus compares the world to meat or fish that, left to itself, will very quickly become putrid. The primary use of salt in his day was to preserve meat by soaking it in brine, or rubbing salt thoroughly into it. And Jesus compares the world to a room in a house after the sun goes down. It is dark. Lamps have to be lit to avoid damage and danger. So, the world in which we live – the world of the global marketplace – is a corrupt and dark place. That is our starting point, and not terribly surprising in view of all the rest of the Bible’s story so far.

Second, disciples have the power to make a difference. Salt and light are active things. They are applied to relevant situations (meat and rooms) in order to change something: to stop putrefaction, to dispel the darkness. Similarly, disciples are intended by God to make a difference to the con-texts in which they live and work. Things ought to be less rotten and less dark in any situation where Christians are present. That includes the global marketplace.

Third, both salt and light are penetrative. That is, they have to be ‘released’ into the environment where they are to make a difference. Salt has to be rubbed vigorously into the meat in order to stave off decay. Light has to be put on a stand where it can confront the darkness. Similarly, disciples must be closely involved in society in order to make any difference to it. We are meant to penetrate, not merely to preach.

Finally, Jesus applies his metaphor explicitly to practical living, not merely religious devotion or evangelistic witness. The light that is to shine before men is ‘your good deeds’ (v. 16). So, just as in the Old Testament (where light also has a distinctly ethical dimension, cf Isa. 58), the way disciples are to function as salt and light in society is through ethical distinctive-ness.

The Old Testament echoes remind us immediately of Daniel who, we are told, had a ‘spirit of excellence’ (Dan. 6:3, literally). This is then expanded to include the testimony that he was ‘trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent’ (6:4). In other words, he was a man of integrity in his public as well as his private life. This surely has to be the key distinctive mark of saints in the marketplace: truth, honesty, trustworthiness.

David, a man after God’s heart, knew what was closest to God’s heart: ‘I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity’ (1 Chr. 29:17). God himself, reminding himself of why he had chosen Abraham, states this as the purpose of election and the agenda for mission to the nations.

For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him (Gen. 18:19).

And Paul, speaking even to slaves whom one might have thought could be spared any duty of honesty towards their masters, urges them in exactly the same way.

Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favour, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men (Col. 3:22-23).

Moral integrity means that there is no dichotomy between our private and public personas; between the sacred and the secular in our lives; between what we say and what we do; between what we claim to believe and what we actually practice. This is a major challenge to all believers who live and work in the non-Christian world, and it raises endless ethical dilemmas and often wrenching difficulties of conscience. But it is a struggle that cannot be avoided if we are to function with any effectiveness at all as salt and light in society.

If a piece of meat goes rotten, it is no use blaming the meat. That’s what happens when the bacteria do their natural work. The question to ask is, where was the salt? If a house gets dark at night, it’s no use blaming the house. That’s what happens when the sun goes down. The question to ask is, where is the light?

If society becomes more corrupt and dark, it’s no use blaming society. That’s what fallen human nature does, left unchecked and unchallenged. The question to ask is, where are the Christians? Where are the saints who will actually live as saints – God’s different people – in the marketplace?

b) Worldview distinctiveness

But why are Christians supposed to be ethically distinctive in the market-place? The answer is that we operate from a different worldview – a world-view based on the biblical revelation of the biblical God. Basically we refuse to idolize the marketplace itself, because we recognize the ultimate, highest reality – God himself. We live by the biblical story, which sets the whole of human life, work, ambitions and achievement (all of them valid and intended) within the context of God’s creation, redemption, and future plans. We actually live as if all the points in section 1 above were true – not just philosophical concepts, but life-deter-mining realities.

The Bible is well aware of the temptation to turn work and achievement into an idol – especially when linked to our natural greed (remember that Paul twice equates covetousness with idolatry: break the tenth commandment and you also break the first). As early as Deuteronomy, we hear the yuppy capitalist boast articulated in one verse, and pricked in the next.

You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today (Dt. 8:17-18).

So, in line with all above, we affirm that work has its value and its integral place in what it means to be human. But we also affirm the Sabbath – the climax of God’s creative work, by which all our work is intended to find its rest and fulfilment in the enjoyment of God. Work is not the primary fact about life, nor the totality of life. Only God is. With this worldview, God is not an escape from our work, nor a crutch to help us endure it. Rather God is actively involved in all our work in the marketplace, functioning in all the ways outlined above.

Daniel is our inspiration once more. In the same chapter we are told that he prayed thrice daily with his windows open towards Jerusalem (Dan. 6:10). I believe this was not mere nostalgia. It was not that he was longing to waft away on the wind and go home to Jerusalem. It was rather that he was orientating his life in Babylon by his awareness of the God of Jerusalem. The key to Daniel’s worldview lay not in the city that Nebuchadnezzar had built but in the city he thought he had destroyed. He would not be co-opted by the gods or masters (or work col-leagues) of Babylon, but, while serving them in the best way possible, he would actually serve the living God of the covenant people. Those windows were open, not to let the prayers of Daniel out, but to let the God of Israel in – into the Babylonian marketplace where Daniel lived the whole of is working life.

We must ask Christians in the global marketplace: Where does your worldview come from? Not the one you consciously adopt in church, but the one you unconsciously take into the working week? What story are you living out of? What are the temptations that you face of the idolatry of work, greed, envy, ambition and power; and what are you doing to resist them?

III. The Church and the Marketplace

So far we have been thinking of saints as individuals in the marketplace. But the church, as a corporate entity, has its own role there too.

1. The prophetic task

We are called to the role of the prophet, not just of the chaplain. The marketplace often asks for ‘chaplaincy’. That is, they want to hear the comforting sounds of God’s assumed approval. So there can be all kinds of Christian equivalents of the old pagan priests and augurs who could check the auspices, and do all the needful rituals to keep the gods happy. Public life can then gleam with the veneer of socially acceptable religious approval. It can be a very thin veneer however. Amos had a thing or two to say about social wrongs that were going on beneath the façade of religious rites.

The people of God are called to maintain a critical distance and to speak on behalf of the independent Divine Auditor. This does not mean we adopt a posture of superiority, for we know our own sinfulness. But it does mean we must offer the voice of evaluation, of critique or approval, according the standards we learn in God’s own revelation. We are to renounce evil and hold fast to what is good, and that calls for minds and hearts attuned to recognize the difference. The church collectively can still perform this prophetic function, though it will also always suffer for doing so – sometimes from the co-opted chaplains of the marketplace themselves.

2. The pastoral task

It is also the function of the church to support those who live their lives daily as saints in the marketplace. Paul tells us that God has given to his church pastors and teachers ‘to equip the saints for works of service’ (Eph. 4:12). I believe that ‘works of service’ here does not just mean Christian activity (ie., church-based ministry or evangelism), but all and any form of service within society as a whole, including the church.

This turns right upside down one of the commonest misconceptions that sadly still permeates the church and cripples its effectiveness. Believe it or not, God did not invent the church to support the clergy. Rather, God gave pastors and teachers to the church in order to equip the saints. People don’t go to church on Sundays to support their pastors in their ministry. Pastors go to church on Sunday to support their people in their ministry – which is out-side the walls of the church, in the world, being salt and light in the marketplace.

The challenge to pastors (and those who train them), therefore, is: are they helping ordinary working Christians to understand the world they live and work in (or just dangling before them the prospect of a better world when they die)? Are they providing biblical teaching, a biblical worldview, for sustaining Christian ethical witness? Are they helping working Christians to wrestle with the ethical issues they face in the workplace, encouraging faithfulness, integrity, courage, and perseverance? In order to exercise such supportive ministry, pastors and teachers in the church themselves need to know the problems and temptations their people face. They need to keep up to date with the realities of the marketplace and not live in an isolated spiritual bubble.

I remember with sadness the time I spoke to a conference of graduate Christians in India – all of them professional ‘lay’ people. In the context of teaching about Old Testament ethics, we were discussing the multiple complex problems, of ethics and con-science, which face Indian Christians daily – from bribery and corruption to exploitation and violence. I asked if they were able to talk such things over with their pastors. There was hollow laughter. ‘Our pastors never talk, or think, or preach about such things’, they said. ‘Some of them are involved in that kind of thing themselves any-way.’

IV. Conclusion

As I said, I speak as a coward, for my working life is not in the secular global marketplace. But I have great admiration and great concern for those who do. They are the Daniels of the present world – or at least, they can and should be. They are the salt and light of the world. What would the world be like if all the millions of Christians who do earn their living in the marketplace were to take seriously what Jesus meant by being salt and light? And what would be the impact evangelistically? These are questions that I hope some others will turn into practical and theological reflection, within the over-all ethos and passion of the Lausanne movement.

Endnotes

  1. Darrel Cosden, The Heavenly Good of Earthly Work (Carlisle: Paternoster, 2006) provides an excellent critique of this dichotomized and, frankly, unbiblical view-point, and a fine theology of work in the process.
  2. Particularly helpful on this theme of the eternal significance of human work accomplished in time is Darrel Cosden, The Heavenly Good of Earthly Work.
  3. Bruce Winter, Seek the Welfare of the City: Christians as Benefactors and Citizens (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003).
  4. I know that I owe these points to having heard John Stott preach from this text on many occasions, but cannot at the moment pin-point the book in which he has written them up.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Rev Dr Christopher J.H. Wright (PhD, Cambridge) taught at Union Biblical Seminary, India, 1983-88 and then All Nations Christian College, UK, where he was Principal, 1993-2001. He is now the International Director of the Langham Partnership International, and is the author of commentaries on Deuteronomy (1996) and Ezekiel (2001), Old Testament Ethics for the People of God (2004), and The Mission of God (2006).