Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

Whatever You Do: Six Foundations for an Integrated Life, edited by Luke Bobo

Whatever You Do: Six Foundations for an Integrated Life, edited by Luke Bobo. Made to Flourish. 83 pages. 2019

This book, the first in the new FWE Foundational Series, is edited by Luke Bobo, who serves as director of curriculum and resources for Made to Flourish, “a network of pastors who seek to encourage and resource each other to integrate faith, work, and economic wisdom for the flourishing of our communities”. In the “Introduction”, Matt Rusten, Executive Director for Made to Flourish sites Barna research which reflects that only 28% of Christian workers are seeking to actively integrate their faith with their work. He indicates that this book, written for pastors, church leaders and their churches, explores how we can pursue a more coherent life and faith in six important areas. Here’s an overview of the book:

  • Chapter 1 explores the unified story of the Bible.
  • Chapter 2 traces God’s mission through the entire Bible.
  • Chapter 3 explores how formation in Christ impacts the whole person.
  • Chapter 4 explores a coherent view of work.
  • Chapter 5 moves from the “me” of faith and work to the “we” of our participation in the broader economy.
  • Chapter 6 explores the role of the local church in the world.

Rusten writes that the chapters have an internal coherence. Taken together, they form the theological scaffolding to make meaning of all of life and form a philosophy of ministry that values whole life discipleship.

Below are a few quotes I highlighted from each chapter as I read the book:

The Bible’s Big Story: How the Grand Narrative Informs Our Lives and Directs Our Mission – Amy L. Sherman

  • The Bible’s big story starts with creation in Genesis 1 and ends with the consummation of Christ’s kingdom in Revelation 22. Without the bookends in their proper place, we will not give God all the honor he deserves. We will not fully grasp our calling to live out our discipleship in every arena of life. We will not fully understand what obedience to the great requirement (Mic 6:8), the great commandment (Mark 12:29-31), or the great commission (Matt 28:19-20) looks like.
  • When our functional theology is truncated to only two installments of the Bible’s four-chapter story, we risk thinking that “saving souls” is the believer’s only vocation, our only calling. But when the bookends are in their proper position, we see our vocations expand beyond the work of evangelism, yet still including it. When we understand the big story, we gain clarity on living an integrated, missional life.
  • We’re here for work that honors God and serves others.
  • Work is both good and normative. It’s not a result of the fall. It’s part of God’s design.
  • Jesus is redeeming all things and accepts no sacred/secular divide.

God’s Mission: An Invitation to Participate in the Redemption of Individuals and Renewal of All Things – Michael W. Goheen

  • The goal of God’s mission is a comprehensive restoration of the world.
  • This creation belongs to God and we will one day give account for how we exercised our gifts and used God’s resources.
  • God’s mission is to restore his whole creation (Acts 3:21), to reconcile all things back to its original shalom and harmony (Col 1:20) and renew the world to what it was supposed to be (Matt 19:28).

Personal Wholeness: Vital for Effective Leadership – Gary Black, Jr.

  • A Christian disciple is expected to steward themselves and their work for the glory of God, God’s kingdom objectives, for the benefit of everyone involved.
  • I suggest that leaders do have a moral responsibility to themselves, to God, and to those they serve through their leadership capacity, to steward their private and public lives in a godly way.
  • I also propose that until our Christian leaders, both laity and clergy, advocate for, and personally engage in, a transparent and holistic process of moral character formation, our churches will not follow suit.
  • Biblical leadership involves accepting a higher responsibility to set an example of the means necessary for experiencing life to the full as a disciple of Jesus inside the kingdom of God.
  • Few of our leaders take the time or realize the importance of engaging in an ongoing moral inventory of their actions, attitudes, motives, goals, intentions, relationships, and the means they are employing to achieve their objectives.
  • The lack of development and commitment to faithful friendships is also where most efforts for moral transformation tend to flail and therefore fail.

The Goodness of Work: Work That Leads to Flourishing – Vincent Bacote

  • Work is indeed good; the task of spiritual formation is incomplete without this important emphasis.
  • The truth about God as the ultimate worker is one of the most vital foundations for the goodness of work.
  • Work that contributes to the good of God’s world is one of the most primary expressions of being a divine image bearer.
  • Christ’s incarnation provides an affirmation of the goodness of work.
  • Redemption also helps us see that all of our work, even without compensation, is for the good of our neighbor.
  • Work is a worshipful response to God that is for the good of our neighbors, whether the “neighbor” is as close as a spouse or as distant as customer on the other side of the globe.

Economic Wisdom: Essential for Glorifying God and Loving Our Neighbor – Greg Forster

  • Growing in economic wisdom is essential for glorifying God and loving our neighbor.
  • To meet the challenge of our times, we must find some way to talk about justice without becoming captive to partisan or ideological agendas.
  • Our daily lives must be reinterpreted in light of God’s action in creating us to be good stewards of his world, working together with one another in holy love.
  • All Christians should become aware of which kinds of economic idolatry they personally tend toward and adopt practices to help them continue discovering blind spots and learning from those with different perspectives.
  • The spiritual formation of the faithful takes place mostly through their daily work in the economy, and the outside world is watching to see if the church has anything to say about these vital matters of life-and-death importance to the common good.

The Local Church: Uniquely Designed and Empowered to Promote Human Flourishing – Tom Nelson

  • Christian spirituality devoid of local church community is a homeless faith.  A homeless faith is an impoverished faith, for we were created and redeemed with community in mind.
  • A church for Monday embraces a robust work and vocational theology recognizing that a primary work of the church is the church at work.
  • Our greatest problem with the local church may not be a head problem, but a heart problem.

Conclusion: Now What? – Luke Bobo

  • The church has perpetuated a dwarf-size version of the Big Story that has traditionally only included the fall and redemption.
  • Such a version of the Big Story is primarily focused on personal evangelism and securing a ticket to heaven. Such a version of the Big Story can stunt the growth of believers and skew how we see.
  • The grand narrative teaches us that all work, except sinful work, is good, contributive, and noble.
  • There is no pecking order of occupations or vocations in God’s workview.
  • The Big Story of Scripture, of which we find ourselves, means embracing, perhaps anew, the unique and divine role of the local church.