Category: Vocation

“A religious right that is not able to tie public action and cultural concern to a theology of gospel and mission will die and will deserve to die.” –Russell Moore

In this year’s Erasmus Lecture at First Things, Russell Moore offers a striking critique of the religious right of decades past and present, pointing the way toward a renewal in public theology and a revitalization of Christian institutions:

Alas, while many the movement’s conversations have often focused on key issues and the right high-level policy aims, far too often, it has suffered from a narrow theological imagination and an increasingly cynical political pragmatism. As a result, we’ve found ourselves reaching for narrow policy wins and waging gruesome short-term political combat at the cost of clear Gospel witness and long-term culture-level action and institution-building.

As Moore concludes, a renewed religious right will require a more holistic and generational view of human flourishing and the People of God — one that doesn’t forget or neglect the heart of the Gospel or confuse it with moralism and political privilege: (more…)

Blog author: jsunde
Wednesday, October 26, 2016
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Does the work of a coffee buyer have an impact that stretches on into eternity? Does coffee tasting matter to God?

In a new video from Chapel Hill Bible Church, coffee taster and buyer Jeff McArthur shares how he came to see the deeper meaning of his work, both in the day-to-day trades and exchanges with his customers and community and in the relational ripple effects that reach on into the broader economic order.

“I feel like sometimes God has us in roles for reasons that we don’t immediately see,” McArthur says. “We’re helping to impact who goes into the café in the morning to get their coffee, but we’re also impacting the lives of those producing partners of ours as well.”

McArthur, who serves as Head Roaster for Counter Culture Coffee, outlines a range of areas in which simple, mundane tasks or responsibilities yield tremendous fruit, both material and spiritual. (more…)

strong-weak-chart-andy-crouch12In our discussions about politics, society, and culture, the vocabulary of “human flourishing” has become increasingly popular, moving dangerously close to the status of blurry buzzword.

Yet at its best, the term captures the connective tissue between the material and the transcendent, the immediate and the eternal, pointing toward a holistic prosperity that accounts for the full complexity of the human person.

In his latest book, Strong and Weak: Embracing a Life of Love, Risk and True Flourishing, Andy Crouch examines the broader ideal. ‘“Flourishing’ is a way of answering the first great question,” he writes. “What are we meant to be? We are meant to flourish—not just to survive, but to thrive; not just to exist, but to explore and expand.”

In order to actually embody that answer, Crouch believes we have to grasp the underlying “paradox of flourishing.” “Flourishing comes from being both strong and weak,” he writes, requiring us to “embrace both authority and vulnerability, both capacity and frailty – even, at least in this broken world, both life and death.”

In truth, most of us tend to elevate one to the detriment of the other, relishing in abuse of power or pursuit of poverty. Yet as humans created in the image of God, and as citizens of an upside-down Kingdom, we are called to embrace and combine each together. Such is the path to real life and abundance, both in the now and not yet. (more…)

Time-Magazine-The-Me-Me-Me-GenerationWhether directly connected with our passions or not, God calls us first and foremost to do the next thing well, to his glory, with all of our might, says John Stonestreet. Short of this awareness, we risk “Christianizing” a sense of entitlement.

Christians are guilty of inculcating false expectations to their young as well. For at least a couple of generations, Christian colleges and other educational institutions, with the noble intention of communicating the biblical concept of “calling” being more than full-time ministry jobs, have taught students to look at their own giftedness as the key (sometimes the only key) to discovering “God’s will.” I must confess my own guilt in this regard.

Of course, there’s certainly truth to the idea that the Lord has gifted us in unique ways to serve Him and that we can discover these gifts through our passions and use them for His glory. Remember Olympian Eric Liddell’s wonderful line from “Chariots of Fire”? “God has made me for a purpose, for China. But he’s also made me fast, and when I run, I feel God’s pleasure.”

While the biblical picture of calling and vocation includes our giftedness, it also includes things like sacrifice, persecution and an awareness of the needs of my neighbors. Jesus said that those who follow him carry crosses. Paul said that anyone who wishes to follow Christ will be persecuted. (Remember, Liddell died in a Japanese prison camp.)
It’s really only Christians in the West, especially America, who have had the luxury of dwelling on the question, “What has God made me to be, and what is my calling?” Unfortunately, along the way, we’ve missed other lessons about calling that our brothers and sisters around the world are forced to learn.

Read more . . .

“It needs to be our job to envision a different future for the church in which we teach our young people to compete in the arena and be so excellent that they cannot be denied — to be shepherds.” -Gregory Thornbury

In a recent lecture at the ERLC’s 2016 National Conference, Gregory Thornbury, President of King’s College in New York City, challenges the church to “stop talking about culture and engaging culture” and begin sending competitors into the “heart of the arena,” whether in finance, business, the arts, politics, or otherwise.

“I am concerned that the rightful teaching of grace in our churches may be producing a slacker generation that will damage our witness in culture for coming generations,” Thornbury says. “We need to recover the work ethic that made the people of God who they were in every cultural situation.”

That ethic, Thornbury continues, can be spotted in the shepherd motif of the Biblical story, beginning with the story of Cain and Abel. While Cain simply accepts the curse on the ground, operating cynically from the scarcity of a fallen world, Abel “understands that the human being is created in the image of God and part of the cultural mandate is to subdue the earth.” Cain toils, but Abel deploys.  (more…)

6cdb603ec737f3efb860aedefd6e4b88In the newly translated Pro Rege: Living Under Christ the King, Volume 1, Abraham Kuyper reminds us that Christ is not only prophet and priest, but also king, challenging us to reflect on what it means to live under that kingship in a fallen world.

Written with the aim of “removing the separation between our life inside the church and our life outside the church,” Kuyper reminds us that “Christ’s being Savior does not exclude his being Lord,” and that this reality transforms our responses in every corner of cultural engagement, both inside the church walls in across business, educations, the arts, and so on.

Kuyper was writing to the church in the Netherlands over 100 years ago, but over at Gentle Reformation, Barry York helpfully connects the dots to the American context, particularly as it relates to the current debates over religious liberty and our lopsided emphasis on worship within the church.

“You can sing whatever you want in church, but you can’t come out of church and act on those beliefs—at least not with any special protection from the law,” York writes, pointing to a recent doctrine from the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. “That legal viewpoint—already put into action in recent court and regulatory rulings—threatens public funding and tax breaks that now support Christian colleges, K-12 schools, poverty-fighting organizations and other charities.” (more…)

Young Americans that are unemployed have worse physical well-being than their employed elders, according to a new survey.

Gallup and Healthways surveyed people in 47 high-income-economy countries for two years on physical well-being, which they defined as having good health and enough energy to get things done daily. Their survey classified responses as “thriving” (well-being that is strong and consistent), “struggling” (well-being that is moderate or inconsistent), or “suffering” (well-being that is low and inconsistent).

The survey found that in the U.S., age has less of an influence on physical well-being than employment status—and unemployment has a particularly significant effect. Young adults (age 15-29) that are employed reported the same level (31 percent) of well-being as employed older adults (age 50 and above). But young adults that are unemployed have lower well-being (26 percent) than older adults who have jobs.
(more…)