Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

The Gospel & Work (Gospel for Life) Edited by Russell Moore and Andrew T. Walker

The Gospel & Work (Gospel for Life) Edited by Russell Moore and Andrew T. Walker. B&H Books. 144 pages. 2017
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The Gospel for Life series is meant to assist pastors and church leaders to answer urgent questions that people are asking, questions that the church isn’t always immediately ready to answer. Each book in the series is structured the same: What are we for? What does the gospel say? How should the Christian live? How should the church engage? What does the culture say? This book is intended to be an introductory look at how Christians should understand work and vocation from every angle of the Christian’s life—their place in culture, their engagement as everyday Christians, and their role in the body of Christ, the church. The book includes the following chapters:
What Are We For? Bethany L. Jenkins
How Should the Christian Live? Greg Forster
What Does the Gospel Say? Bruce Ashford and Benjamin T. Quinn
How Should the Church Engage? Tom Nelson
What Does the Culture Say? Daniel Darling

Helpful discussion questions are included at the end of each chapter. Here are a few of my takeaways for each chapter:

What Are We For? Bethany L. Jenkins
This was my favorite chapter, and was worth the price of the book for me. Jenkins looks at the Bible’s narrative arc—creation, fall, redemption, and restoration—to discover the proper place of our work in light of God’s larger work of redemption. Our work is a vocational assignment if God calls us to do it and if we do it for the sake of others, not ourselves. Christians can do almost any kind of work—from data-entry to education to medicine to so much more—as an offering of worship to God. She states that since all assignments are from God for the common good, then all work is “ministry” work.

What Does the Gospel Say? Bruce Ashford and Benjamin T. Quinn
The Gospel makes demands on our lives—beginning with the humble recognition that everything we have in life is a gift from God. A second demand that the gospel makes on our vocations is the love for God and neighbor in all times and places. Third, the gospel demands that the redeemed of the Lord recognize their vocations as ministry. When we consciously recognize our role as conduits of God’s love and provision, our work takes on new dimensions. We begin to do our work with excellence, because if we are the “hands of God” through our jobs, we want those hands to provide the best service and the best product.

How Should the Christian Live? Greg Forster
Jesus will give you grace, power and wisdom to face whatever His calling requires you to face. Work is the main way we carry out the Great Commandment to love God and neighbor. In our work, we must first and foremost love God, must serve God as His stewards. Our work must be productive—fruitful—for God. To be faithful in your work, you will need to persevere through suffering.

How Should the Church Engage? Tom Nelson
This chapter includes some wonderful information, but it was mostly familiar to me from having read Nelson’s excellent book Work Matters: Connecting Sunday Worship to Monday Work. He writes that for many pastors and Christian leaders, there is a large Sunday-to-Monday gap. This gap leads to a deficient understanding of the integral relationship between worship on Sunday and work on Monday. If we perpetuate a Sunday-to-Monday gap, our efforts at spiritual formation—leading followers of Jesus into increasing Christlikeness—will be incomplete. He believes that pastors must become more intentional in teaching a robust theology of vocation that informs our people’s work.

What Does the Culture Say? Daniel Darling
Many, if not most, Christians see their workplaces as simple vehicles by which they can provide for their families, tithe their incomes to the church, and perhaps engage in occasional evangelistic conversations. The actual work seems unimportant in light of eternity. Your job on Monday is not a means to an end—it is part of your divine calling to fulfill the mandate given to us as God’s image bearers. The cubicle, the garage, the classroom—these are sanctuaries where you are called to worship your Creator with your best work. Our work on earth, when done for the glory of Christ, passes the test of fire (1 Cor. 3:12–13) and is mere preparation for our perfected vocations in eternity.

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