God created the heavens and the earth, and He made man on the sixth day. Upon the creation of man God commanded them to be fruitful and multiply. Now why did He do this? The first, and most basic, answer is so that His glory would spread all over the earth. Men are created in the image of God, and when man functions the way they are supposed to function, God is glorified as they reflect Him and His character. Men reflect the Trinity by having interdependent relationships, providing for one another in harmony, following the commandments of the Lord and enjoying God as our Father. What we must notice here is that God loves the material world. He created it. We must at once get rid of the faulty yet popular notion that somehow we were made to leave our bodies when we die in some euphoric disembodied existence with God while singing worship songs to Him. If God wanted disembodied existence, He would not have created the material world.
Of course, sin came into the world and marred everything. The relationship between God and man was severed because man refuses to obey God as Sovereign Lord. Creation is now subdued to decay and corruption, and the image of God in human beings distorted. At that point God could have destroyed all of man, and the whole of the material world. But this is not what He did. In the third chapter of the Bible He promised a seed that would crush the head of the Serpent who brought sin into the world. This seed would obey God, reflect the image of God, and obtain righteousness and would succeed where Adam had failed. God promised that He would not let His good creation go, and though now all man faces condemnation and the wrath of God, He loved us in such a way that He sends His only Son to live the life we could not life and die the death we should have died. Those whom God chose would be forgiven because of the Redemptive Work of this Son, and they are, by the Spirit, given new life. They are promised a new, glorified body in the future and a nature that would no longer allow them to sin. Perfection, at last, will be obtained. Adopted by God, reconciled to Him now as sons and daughters. The wrath of God was satisfied and God was no longer judge – We have been given the right to call Him Father and Christ our Unique Brother.
All well and good then, but what are we supposed to be doing now? Well, here, I believe, is where Christians are most confused. We’ve been saved, the pastors say, but how does that affect my day to day life? Am I supposed to quit my job and become a “full time minister” or spend all my days spreading the good news of Christ? Or is this new relationship I have with Christ purely personal and private? Well, to answer this question we must keep in mind the intentions of God when He first created. You see, I believe that most of us Christians have this dualistic view that some jobs are secular and others are sacred. The pastors and missionaries are doing all the godly work and the poor businessmen and tax collectors are to be pitied. The latter jobs are to be justified if they are instrumentally valuable to the church – they are not jobs that have some sort of intrinsic value.
But, you see, if the mission of God was to create a physical world where men who reflect His image would be fruitful and multiply, filling it, the world would not be able to function if all men became full time theologians. Now, do not get me wrong. We need Christian economists who have good theology, but we do not want our theologians to start teaching economics (though, of course, one could be called to study in particular the relationship between God and how our economy is running). For man to function properly we must work, to use Paul’s analogy of a body and the church, each man must work as members of one body. Each job becomes essential for a true civilization under God’s rule to run. How else can God’s people flourish and multiply if every person had the same, uniform job? You see, we must worship God by faithfully carrying out God’s calling to our lives. And God does not call everybody to the pastorate.
Now that the world and human civilization have been marred by sin, God promised that He Himself would redeem the world and cause it to function the way its supposed to function again by His Spirit. The old, sin-drenched, world will be no more and a New Earth will come to be. Are we then to wait around for His Spirit to do all the work for us? Well, God certainly could have done it by divine fiat, but this is not the way He has chosen to do it. In His grace and wisdom He has decided to put His Spirit into us. Adam had failed to advance from a state where there was the possibility of sin, death, and lost righteousness in the garden to a state of the final city where people would live in the Lordship of God perfectly, with no serpent prowling any longer. As a representative head, Adam was supposed to obey in our stead, as his obedience would result in either blessing for his offspring or a curse of death. Christ accomplished what Adam had failed to do. In our stead he obeyed God perfectly, crushed the serpent’s head, took the wrath that we deserve from Adam’s disobedience and our own sins, and in his resurrection signaled to us that he has begun the era of the kingdom already, and promises that we too will participate in his resurrection with a final resurrection body like his. We began in a garden, we will end in a city – that climactic metapolis that will function without sin for the glory of God.
Where do we fit in this? The answer should be obvious. If God promised that His Spirit will be the agent of New Redemption, and He decides to put the Spirit inside Christians, that means the Spirit, as the agent of the New Creation, will begin injecting that new heaven reality through Christians who live here today. We are meant to live in a way that witnesses to that final city, and thus we ought to live redemptively in whatever job we find ourselves to be in. The Spirit coming inside us and resurrecting us spiritually is the guarantee down payment for the consummation of this new creation in the last day. The kingdom is here, as witnessed by us living by the Spirit today, and the Kingdom will be consummated when Christ returns, and our bodies will then reflect the Spirit-wrought righteousness that He had freely given to us. God is reconciling all things to Himself in Christ, and we, as people chosen and saved by God, have been filled by His Spirit to become agents of witness to that final city. In other words, our lives lived today will have continuity with our lives in the next world.
Notice, then, it is the Christian’s job, because the Spirit moves Him, to point to the reversal of all the effects of sin. Disease, poverty, hunger and gratuitous suffering, just to name a few. It is why the Christian will be actively involved in works of charity, offering, and healing. No dichotomy here between social justice or evangelism is necessary. The Gospel necessitates both: God saves us for a purpose – to reconcile the world to Himself. Businesses provide, lawyers and politicians administer justice and the morality of God – poets, musicians, artists and architect reflect the creativity and blessed happiness of God, scientists the wisdom of God and logicians and mathematicians the rationality of God. What justifies each work is not how much the profit produced from it goes to the church or how much we evangelize to others (though, of course, the Great Commission must certainly be obeyed along with the cultural and redemptive commands of God), but that we might show how that particular field of work is to function without sin in reflection of God’s glory. We were saved to serve. We were saved to redeem. The Pastor, so to speak, equips these men who work in these different fields. If the missionaries have places like Papua or some remote tribe as their mission field, the Businessman’s mission field is the greedy business world to provide goods and services for the people, the lawyer’s and politician’s the corrupt government to administer justice, and the philosopher’s the anti-theistic universities. Every Christian is a full-time minister and his field is his mission. The Church is the home-base and the world a battlefield. Your life has an eternal purpose.
Simply speaking, if you move from your job to a job in the church and call that transition a move to “full time ministry” then you are implying that christians who are not working in the church are not full time ministers – this will only reinforce the false dichotomy that some jobs are sacred while others are secular. All things are meant for the glory of God.
Thus, the Christian’s work, here, again, could be properly called God’s down payment. A sign of His promise. That when the world sees the Christians, they see a hope for the world God is bringing about – the firstfruits of God’s ultimate redemption. Jesus preached most about the coming of the Kingdom of God, and when He died and rose again, ascending to the Father and sending the Spirit down, the Kingdom has started to come. The Kingdom of God is already here, but not yet fully here – it is here and it is to be seen as the Spirit works through every Christian. It is not fully here, because there is still much work to do, and God himself will finish what we began with our work and will raise it up to an estate of glory – something we cannot do. Much of the world is marred by sin still and it is now not the time to rest. Be faithful, oh Christian, and obey this call of God. Bear the Cross and go directly to whatever mission field God wants you to be in. Do not live for anything else, for nothing else will do. All will be tested by fire, and only the work of the Spirit-filled people of God will ultimately survive.
Redemption to the Glory of God.
Some Scripture texts for further Reading:
26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.[a] 28 You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.
18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know thatthe whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 Forin this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.16 For by[a] him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning,the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
2 Corinthians 5:17-19
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.[b] The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling[c] the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.