The current pandemic is bringing untold suffering – and an unprecedented opportunity for re-calibrating discipleship and mission. In this two-part series, I want to offer some insights how we can refine and even transform how we see the equipping of God’s people.
No one knows the future of our global and local economies. “V-shaped” (fairly rapid); “U-Shaped” (slower) and “check-shaped” (quick descent, slow ascent) visuals are all presented, but only time will tell the full effects of the pandemic.
The case for integrating faith, work, and economic wisdom for human flourishing, church vitality, and community thriving is now stronger than ever, and few are arguing for any sacred/secular divides. This said, the need for wisdom is paramount as spiritual leaders empower their congregants for a new economic world.
Our starting place
Before sharing some insights for leaders, a few foundational thoughts are needed so that we anchor our wisdom in biblical and empirical reality.
First, the Lord God created us to enjoy his presence and fulfill his purpose. We are not just workers — the Lord desires to dwell with us and his fellowship in Eden confirms this intimacy and delight. The Lord also gave humankind purpose, with an invitation to steward his world. This includes cultivation, mining, and growth of families and communities (Gen 1-2). God is the first worker and purposeful labor is built into creation. Of course, we are now fulfilling this purpose in a fallen world and find our labor arduous (Genesis 3; Ecclesiastes 4). But our Lord invites us to join in his mission of reconciliation, redemption, and restoration (Gen 12; 2 Cor 5; Col 1), which includes evangelization and seeking the good of our communities (Matt 28:18-20; Jeremiah 29; 1 Tim 2:1-3).
Second, our identity in Christ transcends any current job assignment. Our vocations (callings) in Christ inform our current occupations (daily assignments). Godly character, including emotional and relational wholeness, clarity on our charisms (natural and spiritual gifts), and alertness to the moment are all part of knowing and doing God’s will. Our discipleship must begin with personal wholeness and integrate economics and work into a fabric of integral living.
Third, economics is a moral science, not just facts and figures presented mysteriously from and for experts. Biblical teaching and historical data confirm the importance of integrating personal responsibility and the common good. The blending of ethical entrepreneurship with generosity and the pursuit of just systems woven into every part of Scripture. From gleaning statutes to the Sabbath and Jubilee years, from responsible stewardship for personal property united with public works (Nehemiah), we discover that the Bible is not conservative or liberal, laissez-faire or communitarian. Put simply, believers can debate and discern policies and have diverse opinions, but the basic elements of human flourishing are clear.
The Discipleship Dynamics Assessment (www.discipleshipdynamics.com) was created with these principles in mind and for people to integrate all aspects of personal and public life as worship before the Lord. In Part 2, I will share four steps leaders can take to prepare their communities for the changes ahead.