December 18, 2017

Chapter Two Continued: Work

(This is the third in a series of articles on the Christian life.  The other two can be found here and here.)

There is an old and persistent heresy.  It involves separating the earthly from the godly, the material from the spiritual.  Gnostics, Cathars, and others have fallen into the error of equating material things with evil and spiritual with good.  This has expressed itself over the centuries in extreme physical mortification; secret societies of initiates; iconoclasm; puritanical rejections of holidays, sacraments, or art; and complete withdrawal from the world.  The reason that orthodox Christianity has always rejected this heresy has to do with the nature of God.

God is both spiritual and material, unknowable and yet with us, very God and very man, the Trinity.  And we are made in the image of God.  We too are spiritual and material.  Anything we do to worship or serve God will need to be both spiritual and material if we are to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength – with all of ourselves, in other words.

In modern Western Christianity, this error manifests itself more as intellectual versus material.  The Gospel is perceived as an idea to be grasped or a tenet to be affirmed.  Worship is thought of as reading the Bible, singing religious songs, and listening to a sermon.  Many modern Christians, suspecting idolatry, have a horror of the physical, material side of worship.  Whole denominations throw out sacraments, which are physical manifestations of spiritual realities.  They don’t want to do things with their bodies, like crossing themselves or bowing.  And they don’t want to discuss the place of human work in the Christian life.

However, I refuse to scrap the word “work” from my vocabulary.   Work is an essential element of Chapter Two of the Christian life.

To remind you, Chapter Two refers to the life we lead once we are resurrected from our death in sin – or perhaps more accurately, while we are being resurrected from our death in sin.  Chapter One is entirely about God’s grace and our inability to merit or achieve anything on our own.  Chapter One is the call of Jesus outside the tomb, where we lie dead and stinking.  But we have come forth now; we are responding to the outrageous and unexpected calling of grace.

The chief problem I face here is defining “work.”  I find a variety of meanings in books, conversations, and on iMonk.  The most pernicious and least helpful definition involves taking Ephesians 2:9 out of the whole context of the New Testament and understanding work to be nothing but the filthy rags of human righteousness.   Work is not opposed to grace.  Grace makes work possible.  Work is the response to grace.  We were created to do good works.  People who take this definition – that work equals self-righteousness and legalism – to its logical conclusion ought to lie down and starve to death.  But mostly they don’t.  They go to their jobs.  They cook food and repair their cars and take care of their children.  Are these activities not work?  Does God reject them as filthy rags?

He does not.

“God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.  We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure.  We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised”  (Hebrews 6:10-12, NIV).

Jobs, families, home – these are our vocations.  Vocations are work, and this work is good.  We are called by God to serve him in many areas, and we do that best by excellence in the area where we serve.  Even if we don’t have any extraordinary gifts, we glorify God by our honesty, diligence, respect for others, and joy in the service we can perform.

Here is how Dorothy Sayers put it.

“[Work] should be looked upon – not as a necessary drudgery to be undergone for the purpose of making money, but as a way of life in which the nature of man should find its proper exercise and delight and so fulfill itself to the glory of God.  [I]t should, in fact, be thought of as a creative activity undertaken for the love of the work itself; and . . . man, made in God’s image, should make things, as God makes them, for the sake of doing well a thing that is well worth doing.”

The pursuit of our vocation, properly done, provides training in obedience, humility, submission, faith, and kindness.  It is also – again, properly done – one way of uniting the physical and the spiritual that sin has tried to separate.  Through God’s grace we are given physical creation to work with, in the process growing spiritually.  As a result we have both physical and spiritual offerings to give to the God who gave us everything so that we could give it back to him.

If we scorn this kind of work as too secular for spiritual development, when will we grow closer to God?  Most of us have very little time outside of this work.  Any spiritual growth or service to God is going to have to take place here, in our vocations.  Even the humblest job becomes an offering to God if we make it so.  This idea is beautifully expressed in a selection from George Herbert’s “The Elixir.”

Teach me, my God and King,

In all things Thee to see,

And what I do in anything,

To do it as for Thee.

A servant with this clause

Makes drudgery divine:

Who sweeps a room as for Thy laws,

Makes that and th’ action fine.

This is the famous stone

That turneth all to gold;

For that which God doth touch and own

Cannot for less be told.

Physical work need not be a distraction from the spiritual life but an aid to it.  There is probably no better guide to understanding this than Brother Lawrence.  He says,

Before beginning any task I would say to God, with childlike trust:

O God, since Thou art with me, and it is Thy will that I must now apply myself to these outward duties, I beseech Thee, assist me with thy grace that I may continue in Thy presence.  To this end, O Lord, be with me in this my work, accept the labor of my hands, and dwell within my heart with all Thy fullness.

Moreover, as I worked, I would continue to hold familiar conversation, offering to Him my little acts of service, and entreating the unfailing assistance of His grace.

When I had finished, I would examine how I had performed my duty.  If well, I gave Him thanks.  If ill, I besought His pardon.

Then, without losing heart, I set my spirit right, and returned anew to His presence, as though I had never wandered from Him.

Thus, by rising after every fall, and by doing all in faith and love without wearying, I have come to a state in which it would be as little possible for me not to think of God as it was hard to discipline myself to it at the beginning.

Notice he had to discipline himself to this at the beginning; his book is called The Practice of the Presence of God.  Through discipline and practice we cooperate in the process of being remade into the image and likeness of Christ.  The process is not something we initiate, nor do we finish it; but God in his mysterious plan has invited us to participate in our remaking, and this participation is work.

It’s often the hardest work we ever do.

But we’ll never find out what hard work it is if our Christian life is exclusively intellectual and consists of listening to sermons and reading the Bible.  These are good things, essential things.  In fact, according to 1 Timothy 3:16 and 17, study of the Scriptures equips us for every good work.  But tell me this.  Is it more difficult to sit and listen to a sermon, even an uncomfortable one, or to work hard and without complaint for a day?  And which activity tends to reveal more about our weaknesses?  Even when I recognize a just condemnation of myself in a sermon, part of me is still pleased with how smart I was to have understood the sermon and how humble I was to have applied it to myself.  But I have no room for self-congratulation when I try to practice the disciplines of the body.  Skip intellectual affirmation.  I have to make my mouth apologize, my mind focus on others.  I have to make my body put God and not its own comfort first.  I have to pray, to serve others, to open my house to others, to control my appetites.  I have to shut up.

This is work.

Sources:

Dorothy Sayers, “Why Work?”  Letters to a Diminished Church:  Passionate Arguments for the Relevance of the Christian Doctrine. Nashville, TN:  Thomas Nelson, 2004.

George Herbert, “The Elixir.”  Quoted in Elizabeth Gray Vining, The World in Tune.  Wallingford, PA:  Pendle Hill Publications, 1977.

Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God.  Gainesville, FL:  Bridge-Logos Publishers, 2001.

Comments

  1. This post has not been rationed out ……..I loved it 😀

  2. Scott Miller says:

    Good post. Most of the attitudes I see in some of my evangelical friends is the idea that the whole purpose of life is to win the lost. Nothing else. Work is drudgery, unless you are given opportunities to witness or you are being persecuted by an unchristian boss. Other than that it is just sitting around waiting for the Lord to come back!
    That is why I appreciate InternetMonk and articles like this. Thanks.

  3. This post is perhaps the most eloquent refutation of the statement “I’m in full time ministry” that I’ve ever read. Let the revolution against churchianity continue. May Damaris live long, and write often.

    GregR

    • If you mean Churchianity, “stop the cloistered, gnostic, other worldliness” mentality retire, I’d agree.

      If you suggest that the church as the gathering of believers, where they received Christs gifts of word and sacrament should go too, then I’d have to disagree.

  4. Steve Newell says:

    In Lutheran theology, we teach that God words through means: Paper, Water, Bread, and Wine. God’s Word when combined with paper gives us Holy Scripture. God’s Word when combined with water gives us Holy Baptism. God’s Word when combined with bread and wine gives us Holy Communion. God works through these means to give us forgiveness of sin.

    To separate the physical from the spiritual runs contrary to how God works. Christ took on human form in his incarnation. Remember, at Christ’s return we will be resurrected in physical bodies absent of sin.

  5. “If we scorn this kind of work as too secular for spiritual development, when willwe grow closer to God?”

    I agree, Damaris, Wonderful post!

    I also agree with greg r: “May Damaris live long, and write often.”

  6. When I was an evangelical Christian I heard the term “full time ministry” non stop. It happens so much in reformed circles. I heard it at church, Crusade, and other venues. The lesson I learned is that a person is not serving God unless they are a missionary, pastor, ministry leader, etc… in “full time ministry”. I look back today as an agnostic and feel sick over what some people did or removed themself from becuase they wanted to enter into “full time ministry”. In the work environments I was in so much happened. DUI’s, gambling problems, becoming a single Mom and not planning on it, work hardship, mental health issues, sickness and disease, etc.. And yet many “Christians” feel the need to remove themself from environments where hardship is ongoing and opportunity to show love is right in front ot them. Two stories come to mind that bothered me a lot.

    1. I knew an individula who finsihed college on the west coast that had no idea of what he wanted to do. He decided that he wanted to “serve the Lord” which of course meant that he had to become CCC staff. he wouldn’t consider anything else because he believed that is how you can “serve the Lord”.

    2. I bumped into someone I knew out here in the DC area. This guy worked in health care for the Department of Defense and took a job in the health care clinic in the Pentagon. Anyhow..he didn’t think he was really serving God. Like many evangelicals he drank the kool aide, and walked away from a job where he could have shown grace and love to disabled combat veterans who recently returned from Iraq and Afghanistan. And like other good “fundegelicals” he left his job to join a Crusade clone, FCA. So right in front of him were these opportunites to show love, and grace to some individuals who were exhausted, scarred, and bruised. And he decided to “serve the Lord” as he put it by leaving that and dedicating his life by building Bible studies, working with high school athletes, etc..

    I would also suggest that many pastors, ministries, etc.. are worshipped in this environment that enshrines “full time ministry” . And that many individuals in reformed theology desire to become pastors, missionaries, ministry leaders (such as CCC) because they desire to be worshipped themself. The system needs to feed the system. Harsh statement I know….but think about it. How many times did you hear some pastor, missionary, etc.. talk about “working in full time ministry” and then see the church respond with prayer, send offs, etc..if you knew a guy who felt called by God to work in a customer service job for your local utility company or to be a Nissan Service Technician at your local Nissan dealer ship; how does the church respond? Is it similar? No…the later calling by God is insignificant and minor and is treated as such. Have you seen the local businessman or the Nissan technician used as an example of being obedient to God? Probably not… It’s the system…creating and worshipping itself. It creates people who worship missionaries and pastors and thus inspires to be them. Please note as an agnostic I’m not opposed to missionary work. I may disagree with it, but there are some missionaries who I think are above the system and providing good health care, love, etc.. Those people I respect.

    Nuff said…. 😯

    • I have seen first hand those who went off in religious ferver and separated themselves from society to do God’s work. What this really meant was they surrounded themselves with like minded people – almost in a bubble and drew their support from this “new” family. Instead of staying in the community and working there one couple I knew dragged their young children half way around the world to evangelize – to people who did not speak their language – not sure how effective that was. From my own perception I felt for the young children who were uprooted from everything they knew and put in sometimes a hostile environment and at the least an unstable one.

      I do support missionary work but not at the expense of young children, where one parent could be gone months at a time or they could be put in less than desirable prediciments. From my view this was ignoring the vocation of family over a personal desire to go out and be like Paul. Some found this couples “sacrifices” monumental – I viewed it more as following a desire at the expense of others.

      Ok… my perception – there could be other facets of that diamond to view…

      • @Radagast-

        Many evangelicals live within a bubble. There faith is strong and works well..WHEN they are in control of the situation. But that bubble is shattered when…

        1. A child comes out and tells their parents they are gay.
        2. You go to the doctor and are diagnosed with cancer.
        3. You discover your spouse is having an affair and the church blames you for his actions.
        4. The standard pat answrs just don’t work anymore and the doubt grows and balloons.
        etc..

        When I ventured outside the bubble that is where my faith collapsed. Looking back I saw that I was in a shallow and toxic faith situation. But as an agnostic I don’t know what to make of faith or God. I really feel like Christinaity is more of a cancer at times given the simple pat answers, huge leaps that are needed, combined with a lack of patience that many have for someone who struggles to believe. That’s why I love this blog so much. I can discuss things here that I could never discuss in the church. These topics scare people…they really do.

        • “That’s why I love this blog so much. I can discuss things here that I could never discuss in the church.”

          And I know I speak for many of us here when I say we appreciate your presence, and your comments. Like Michael Spencer’s atheist in the Dairy Queen incident, you help us to see things more clearly than what we often see from “within the bubble.” Thank you.

        • Hey man, I really feel for ya. I became an MMA fighter and a boxer and I often got criticized and persecuted for it by Christians, despite the fact that nowhere does the Bible condemn it, and I know in my heart that God wants me to do this, and to serve him in these fields. They go out there and create all new sins for people to avoid, as if the Bible were not enough for them – as if loving your neighbor, loving God, obeying the commandments and the instructions of Jesus Christ were not enough. They have to add to God’s Word, and many fancy themselves “super Christians,” who are more spiritual, when in the end, they are LESS. I thought it was very odd to be called to do what I do, and when I felt the urge I searched the Scripture for answers and found them – and I have great joy doing what God has called me to do. It’s not a burden, I feel very free, very enriched, and I am so motivated to serve God and tell others about Him, and I relish the opportunity to share the Gospel with fellow fighters, trainers, and more.

          The thing is, you cannot let others shipwreck your faith. Faith is between you and Christ, and imperfect humanity should have no negative affect on it. I know plenty of great Christians now who appreciate what I do, and more, whom God has bought me into fellowship with. I know of great fighters who are believers and likely bring more to Christ than very many missionaries ever have, by glorifying Him and holding camps and whatnot centered around the Gospel. I live outside the evangelical bubble, although I prefer Reformed circles for the most part.

          My friend, don’t let others come between you and God, and do not look to man, or even the body of professing Christians, as to what it means to be a Christian. You looked to man, and when you saw that it was ugly and their behavior grotesque and unloving, you lost heart. You need to look to Christ, and stay focused on HIm, and as He is perfect you will never be unsatisfied. I pray that some day you would find a great church, like mine, which sees all Christians being fulltime ministers – at my church the pastor doesn’t even want to be called pastor, he just wants to be called by his first name, and he lives like a normal person – he even has a few beers with me now and then. I also pray that you would have a true conversion, and that God would give you an undying faith, that endures no matter what the world throws at you, and no matter what anyone does. True faith trust’s Christ alone for salvation – simply throw yourself upon Christ and ignore, and forgive, what others have done.

          Remember Jeremiah 29:13 – “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.”

          • Brendon-

            I know you mean well, and I appreciaet your efforts. However in the above post you almost conclude that I never had a focus on Jesus. That my focus was on man. At the time I had my focus on God, I was blindsided by Christians. It’s a reality of life. Also I take issue with your statement that I never had a genuine conversion. No offense Brendon, that’s arrogant. You really don’t know my heart and what took place. Also it goes to play that conversion is focused on a moment.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      When I was an evangelical Christian I heard the term “full time ministry” non stop. It happens so much in reformed circles. I heard it at church, Crusade, and other venues. The lesson I learned is that a person is not serving God unless they are a missionary, pastor, ministry leader, etc… in “full time ministry”..

      In my church (RCC) this is a HERESY called CLERICALISM — the idea that ONLY Clergy (in my church’s case, Priests, Monks, and Nuns) are God’s People and everybody else at just “pays, prays, and obeys” in order to at best get the Cheap Seats in Heaven. My church was very into it in the Middle Ages, where its “full time ministers” were called Priests, Monks, and Nuns instead of Pastors, Missionaries, and Praise Singers. Nowadays it manifests itself in “getting as many as possible on the other side of the altar rail assisting the Priest at Mass.” (Come to think of it, wasn’t rampant Clericalism one of the main beefs of the Protestant Reformation? Looks like things have come full circle…)

      And yet many “Christians” feel the need to remove themself from environments where hardship is ongoing and opportunity to show love is right in front ot them.

      i.e. “Doing The LORD’s Work (Spiritual Spiritual Spiritual).” In one Catholic flakeout I witnessed years ago, this usually expressed itself by going into Devotions Devotions Devotions 24/7/365 — a schedule workable only to cloistered monks and nuns. (In many ways, a cloistered bubble.) I wonder how many of these “calls to ministry” are actually rationalizations of running away from RL responsibilities? (Or, in the case I witnessed, walling themselves off from a bad RL situation?)

      And like other good “fundegelicals” he left his job to join a Crusade clone, FCA. So right in front of him were these opportunites to show love, and grace to some individuals who were exhausted, scarred, and bruised. And he decided to “serve the Lord” as he put it by leaving that and dedicating his life by building Bible studies, working with high school athletes, etc..

      As someone who was the Omega Male of their high school (and still has the damage to show for it), “Working with High School Athletes” is a real black mark in my book. (Clericalism again, except instead of “Only Priests/Monks/Nuns/Full-time-Christian-Ministry matters before God”, it’s “Only Jocks and Cheerleaders matter”; with the same corollary — “The rest of you Losers can all Go to Hell!”)

      It’s the system…creating and worshipping itself. It creates people who worship missionaries and pastors and thus inspires to be them.

      Flashback to the Eighties when I was involved in an EV Free Megachurch singles group. When they did an Icebreaker with the question “If you weren’t you, what would you be?” I was the only one in the group who DIDN’T answer either “Pastor” or “Missionary”.

  7. “The study of the Law is a noble thing if it be joined with some art, for occupation with both makes us forget sin, and all study which is not accompanied by a craft comes at last to nothing and leads to sin.” – Rabbi Gamaliel, Talmudic Treatise “Pirke Avoth”, cap. 2.

    • Don’t you wish you knew the ultimate spiritual end of Rabbi Gamaliel? Everything I know of him suggests that he was a great man of God.

    • I’m glad somebody brought in a Jewish angle. I had an OT professor who taught a course in Modern Jewish Culture, and he was always bringing in Talmudic references to help understand OT text in all of his courses.

      And “Fiddler on the Roof”: To further dumb ox’s point, the prof was always spouting (or singing) from the movie, such as Tevye’s line, “At four I started Hebrew school, at ten I learned a trade…” In fact, watching the movie was a required assignment for the Modern Jewish Culture course.

      Much of this, and Damaris’ point, comes from Genesis 1:31, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” It’s hard to justify a gnostic understanding of material=evil; spiritual=good with the bible beginning in that manner.

      • I don’t think one can play down the fact that Paul was and remained a tent maker. We tend to interpret this to mean that he worked a little to support his full-time ministry, which is still a very gnostic view of work (a means to an end; a necessary evil).

        • You’re right, we probably do look at work in that way, except for the workaholics. And for them it can turn into idolatry. I know what you mean by “necessary evil”. That’s often the way I look at it, mostly because my work involves a lot of lower back strain. I think the Dorothy Sayers quote above, in Damaris’ article, is an ideal to look toward (not saying we’ll all get there).

          And back to Gamaliel: He was Paul’s teacher. Do you think Paul got some of his doctrine of vocation from him? And then it rubbed off on Luther?

          And yes, Damaris, everything I read about him points to God. Great advice in Acts 5.

          • Exactly! I wonder how much of Gamaliel’s dust stuck to Paul. Perhaps speculative at best.

        • I certainly can’t prove it, but I’m convinced that this tent making stuff helped Paul connect to the people he was talking to. He was not the kind of person who had no way of relating to everyday life and its demands. He was not a theologian from the academy as much as a theologian with calluses. I think the tent making became his sermons.

          • I read about a Japanese man who told a missionary that he was attracted to Christianity but couldn’t see becoming a Christian because he didn’t want to quite work. He thought, from his experience, that Christians didn’t work– the missionary didn’t do any recognizable job. This story was told in a book encouraging tentmaking missions. When we were missionaries, people respected and understood us a lot better once we had begun a business and had a role in the community. In many cultures the only people who just wander around talking to people all day are bums.

          • In many cultures the only people who just wander around talking to people all day are bums.

            OR keynote speakers @ evangelical events….but they are OH SO transformational 🙂

            One of my favorite missionaries to India set up a bakery and restaurant (1st rate food, everybody said so) when he wasn’t busy rescuing orphans and widows and prostitutes/beggars. The Indian mafia ended up driving him out, but I thought his idea for ministry was spot on.

          • I think the tentmaking was part of Paul’s “all things to all people” doctrine, and Damaris and Andy found that out while on the mission field.

            Damaris, I printed out Dorothy Sayers’ article (link on a comment of yours below) and read it this morning. Great stuff. I wish I had found it a few years ago when I did a term paper on “a theology of work”. One of the gloomiest assignments ever, partly because of the drudgery of doing it while my own work was cranking on for the season and I didn’t have time for either. What an irony there, and I think I proved Sayers correct.

            About the only thing else I remember about the paper was Charles Colson’s book Why America Doesn’t Work, which was probably the dreary opposite of Sayers. As I remember, it was kind of a nationalistic/workaholic tract, and I consider both approaches idolatry. I still have respect for Colson, even though I usually bristle when I read his articles in Christianity Today. I think he confuses cultural (his brand) with Christian.

            Thanks for the articles (yours and Sayers’).

          • Sayers is really excellent, Ted. You should try to get some of her other essays — in July, maybe, when you can dig out of your snowbanks and make it down the road.

  8. “Even when I recognize a just condemnation of myself in a sermon, part of me is still pleased with how smart I was to have understood the sermon and how humble I was to have applied it to myself. But I have no room for self-congratulation when I try to practice the disciplines of the body. Skip intellectual affirmation. I have to make my mouth apologize, my mind focus on others. I have to make my body put God and not its own comfort first. I have to pray, to serve others, to open my house to others, to control my appetites. I have to shut up.”

    I’m hearing the Saint John of the Cross stuff again – purgation part I believe. I really enjoy reading this series as it is resonating with me. One does not always have to quit the secular life and go off on a mountain top…

    I have a large family… that is my vocation. I have a secular job where I interact with others in a way I hope keeps to the “love others as yourself”. I run a religious education program as a vocation and if it ever becomes less than that I wil move on.

    I am aware of my appetities -though I don’t always keep them in check. And when I am out of balance spiritually it is because I am being smug, or intellectually (or spritually) superior, or self-centered. My work and vocation keep me grounded so that I can continue to monitor through hindsight (and once in a while realtime) when the me factor is taking too much control.

    My thoughts….

  9. I wonder how many people feel work isn’t part of their Christian life because their job is despicable.

    People who spend their days caring for children or livestock or producing really useful products probably have less doubt about whether their work matters to God. Seeing the creatures they tend healthy and growing and learning and maturing, leaves no question about the worth of the work in the eyes of the God who made the creatures and treasures all life.

    But lots of people have a different experience. They work at meaningless jobs where they produce nothing and get no reinforcement but an (inadequate) paycheck. Unfortunately, they respond by concluding their secular work doesn’t matter. They should draw the opposite conclusion. They should resolve that their work hours are TOO important to be spent in meaningless work.

    Of course, hand in hand with this, they need to have a magnanimous view of the wider value of work. If stocking shelves at the grocery store means other people can get food to eat, if driving a snowplow means other people can drive safety, if filling out forms means other people can get needed healthy care, then a Christian ought to be eager to do that work for the good it does for others, whether they enjoy it or not and whether it “counts” in heaven or not.

    • I encourage everyone to read the whole of the Dorothy Sayers essay that I cite here. She makes it clear that if work is to be a true manifestation of our likeness with God the creator, then all of society needs to get involved. Workers have to treat their work seriously and be devoted, but also consumers and managers need to call for good, productive work, not soul-crushing exploitation. She wrote the essay toward the end of WWII as a call to change for when the wartime economy ended and people began to think about how to live at peace. Her call was unheeded, but it should still be broadcast.

      The essay is available on line at http://www.faith-at-work.net/Docs/WhyWork.pdf.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Is this the same Dorothy Sayers who wrote the “Lord Peter Wimsey” series of Mysteries?

        • Yes! Have you read ’em?

          And by the way, though she was a friend and colleague of CS Lewis, Dorothy Sayers was never a member of the all-male Inklings!

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Actually not “read”; many-many years ago, PBS’s Mystery aired BBC adaptations of the Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries. (As they did on other occasions with the Granada productions of Sherlock Holmes and other productions of Father Brown & Poirot. Not that much of a mystery fan; I liked them mostly as period pieces.)

    • Josh in FW says:

      Great point Andy!

  10. This post has what I think is an excellent focus on what “work” really is. In this type of context, when many fall into the trap of making work and grace arch-enemies, people tend to define “work” as “vain religion.” You know what I’m talking about: Pharisees, extreme mortification of the flesh, endless repetitive prayers, five bajillion hours volunteering with the pubescent offspring of your church members, and a holier-than-thou attitude.

    But that isn’t what this post is talking about. It doesn’t fall into the trap. Work is something that everyone does, that everyone HAS to do, and given that it takes up most of our lives it’s the biggest opportunity for the application of grace. It couldn’t be more different from the type of “works” that many evangelical Christians so rightly despise. This is healthy, necessary, and profound.