Monday, January 16, 2006

Sacred Work

So I had to preach at the Portico last night. We're doing a series entitled A Radical ______ where all the titles begin with M's. I'm not sure why all the words start with M's, but it's worked out well since we've been able to do a Radical Message, Movement, Ministry, etc.... while teaching about the life of Christ.

Anyway, I did the second half of "A Radical Minsitry." The first part by Jeff Miller last week dealt more with Christ's ministry that he set up with his disciples and the beginnings of the early church. Mine had more to deal with the ministry that we believers have to find for ourselves 2,000 years later. So I basically tackled the idea that there is no division between what we perceive as sacred and secular, and that all useful work can be "holy work", basically regurgitating what Martin Luther reclaimed from a corrupt church 500 years ago.

So I thought that I'd just fill up this space with some great quotes and information that I found while preparing for last night. For those of you who were there, if you wanted to save any of those quotes you heard last night, they should all be in here. I'll have my first thoughts on our new downtown coffee shop that opens today maybe later this afternoon. The Bride and I are on our way there in just a few minutes this morning before work. We're so excited we can hardly stand it. Woo hoo!

Anyway, here's some food for thought:

Elton Trueblood
“The test of the vitality of a religion is to be seen in its effect on culture...It’s hard to exaggerate the degree to which the modern church seems irrelevant to modern man” — The Company of the Committed

Bob Briner
“The reason why Christian faith is present in the sports community is that Christians did not run away the minute alcohol was served in a stadium, when games were played on Sunday, when gambling entered the picture. Instead, they reasoned that because some of these troubling elements were a part of sports, that was all the more reason for Christians to stay add as much salt as possible.”

“In my circles, Christians are thought of as people who are against things. I want us to be known as people who are for things good, wholesome, creative, wonderful, and fulfilling. That’s the message of the gospel and it ought to be the message in all that we do.”

“The number one way, then, for Christians to be the salt Christ commands them to be is to teach His relevance, to demonstrate His relevance, to live His relevance in every area of life.” — Roaring Lambs

Martin Luther
It is a pure invention that pope, bishop, priests, and monks are called the spiritual estate while princes, lords, artisans, and farmers are called the temporal estate. This is indeed a piece of deceit and hypocrisy. ...all Christians are truly of the spiritual estate, and there is no difference among them except that of office.... We are all consecrated priests through baptism. — To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation, Luther's Works

See to it first of all that you believe in Christ and are baptized. Afterward, see to your vocation. I am called to be a preacher. Now when I preach I perform a holy work that is pleasing to God. If you are a father or mother, believe in Jesus Christ and so you will be a holy father or mother. Pay attention to the early years of your children, let them pray, and discipline and spank them. Oversee the running of the household and the preparation of meals. These things are none other than holy works to which you have been called. That means they are your holy life and are a part of God's Word and your vocation. — Sermon from 1534

Every person surely has a calling. While attending to it he serves God. A king serves God when he is at pains to look after and govern his people. So do the mother of a household when she tends her baby, the father of a household when he gains a livelihood by working, and pupil when he applies himself diligently to his studies.... Therefore it is a great wisdom when a human being does what God commands and earnestly devotes himself to his vocation.... — Lectures on Genesis

Scotty Smith
When God created the world, and Adam and Eve as His image bearers, He called them to subdue the earth . . . art is designed to be an amazing responsibility from the Lord taking the raw stuff of creation and molding it into something beautiful.” — Interview with ByFaith Magazine

Francis Schaeffer
It is part of the lostness of modern man that they no longer see value in the work of art as a work of art. I am afraid, however, that as evangelicals we have largely made the same mistake. Too often we think that a work of art has value only if we reduce it to a tract. This too is to view art solely as a message for the intellect. — Art and the Bible

Richard Foster
The most foundational of these character-formation experiences is found in our work. Work places us into the stream of divine action. We are "subcreators," as J. R. R. Tolkien reminds us. In saying this, I am not referring to sharing our faith at work or praying throughout our work. Both of these are good, to be sure; but I am referring to the sacredness of the work itself. As you and I care for our daily tasks, we are glorifying God in the work itself. When Martin Luther gave us his revolutionary teaching about the priesthood of all believers, he was referring not just to the fact that the plowboy and the milkmaid could do priestly or liturgical work, but that the plowing and the milking themselves were priestly work.

If we are working to "the audience of One," we will find Jesus to be our constant companion and friend-though our work be so mundane as picking up sticks. We will grow in intimacy with God and patience with others. And we will experience divine care and supernatural guidance in the most ordinary circumstances-like discovering the problem with the washing machine or finding the right words for a difficult conversation.

Jesus, we must remember, spent most of his earthly life in what we today call a blue-collar job. He did not wait until his baptism in the Jordan to discover God. Far from it! Jesus validated the reality of God in the carpentry shop over and over before speaking of the reality of God in his ministry as a rabbi. "So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do," says Paul, "do everything for the glory of God" (1 Cor. 10:31). — Renovare Materials

Robert Drake
In this cultural task, in our fulfilliment of this taking dominion over the creation and cultivating the garden, there is value in these tasks just because they are assigned to us by God.

We experiment and we cultivate, we invent, and we compose not primarily because we can harness these things for evangelism, but because we have been made by God to be cultivators, experimenters, composers, inventors — because this is who we are as the image-bearers of God. This is part of the assignment that God has given man in the world, and it is good. When we sit around wondering how we can harness things for evangelism, I wonder if we don’t lose a focus on being creative people and inventors.

Our work therefore will often be different not because God is specifically introduced as subject matter, but because by following God’s guidance, by following his rules we end up thinking differently, and sometimes we even end up creating things which look different. — Speaking the Truth Without Mentioning God

Jonathan Edwards
The secret of the Christian life is to allow the gospel to filter down into your life both rationally and experientially.