“What does Athens have to do with Jerusalem? What concord is there between the Academy and the Church?” While some Christians today have echoed Tertullian’s question about the relationship of philosophy and the authority of Scripture, perhaps even more believers have wondered “What does Main Street have to do with Jerusalem? How does my work week relate to my weekend at church?”
If you’re a pastor or Christian leader, you might already see the need to equip believers to intentionally live out their faith in their workplaces. But even if you’re not in church leadership, every single one of us needs to see discipleship more and more as a whole-life endeavor. So how does following Jesus apply to our workweeks—beyond any spiritual conversations we might happen to have with our skeptical coworkers? To answer this question, we need to recognize the theological connection between our faith and the good work that we do everyday.
A Blog Series on Faith, Work, and Economics
This month, we’re beginning a series of “recommended resource” posts focusing on the theology of work. How should we see our work as disciples of Jesus? I invite you to join me in an ongoing investigation of the connections between faith, work, and economics.
Each of our resource posts will highlight a book from one of the following categories, as described in the Vision Document of the Economic Wisdom Project (EWP). I first discovered this while reading Dr. Greg Forster’s work, “Theology That Works: Making Disciples Who Practice Fruitful Work and Economic Wisdom in Modern America.”
Here’s how the EWP describes four aspects for faith, work, and economics.
1. Stewardship and Flourishing
The first category is called “stewardship and flourishing.” Here, the focus is on how God gave us stewardship over the world so we could make it flourish for his glory. Indeed, we have a responsibility to work so we can flourish and help our neighbors flourish, too. This category focuses on doing work that serves others and makes the world a better place.
To learn more about this aspect of your work, check out Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work by Timothy Keller and Katherine Leary Alsdorf.
2. Value Creation
The second category is called “value creation.” This is the idea that we work together and create value for one another through economic exchange. This gets us beyond merely thinking in terms of “trading time for money,” but rather, seeing economic success in terms of creating value as free and virtuous people. This is the kind of thing that eventually leads to a productive and flourishing economy.
To learn more about this aspect of your work, check out Why Business Matters to God: (And What Still Needs to Be Fixed) by Jaff Van Duzer.
3. Productivity and Opportunity
The third category is called “productivity and opportunity.” Here, the focus is on human dignity and moral character. This is what should ground economic systems because, generally speaking, productive economies can help people rise out of poverty. As people are allowed opportunities to develop and use their God-given potential, communities stand a better chance at reducing poverty and economic injustice.
To learn more about this aspect of your work, check out The Virtues of Capitalism: A Moral Case for Free Market by Scott Rae and Austin Hill.
4. Responsible Action
The fourth category is called “responsible action.” This category focuses on how economic systems should inspire a hopeful realism in people. We cannot ignore injustice or the situation of the poor. That is, the programs we put into place need to be informed by an understanding of how a society flourishes. We need economic thinking that looks at long-term effects as well as consequences.
To learn more about this aspect of your work, check out Kingdom Calling: Vocational Stewardship for the Common Good by Amy Sherman.
New Series of Book Reviews
I’m excited about this new series of reviews on faith, work, and economics. So what does the work we do every week have to do with our discipleship to Jesus? Everything. If we are to see discipleship as something that consumes our entire lives, we must begin to more intentionally integrate our faith with the parts of our lives that take up most of our time.
Learning more about each of these four areas can help us develop a biblical theology of work and ultimately grow in our discipleship to Jesus Christ.