"Every Good Endeavor"

“Christians’ disengagement from popular culture usually carries over into dualism at work. “Dualism” is a term used to describe a separating wall between the sacred and the secular. it is a direct result of a thin view of sin, common grace, and God’s providential purposes.

“Dualism leads some to think that if their work is to please Christ, it must be done overtly in his name. They feel they have to write and perform art that explicitly mentions Jesus, or teach religious subjects in a Christian school; or that they must work in an organization in which all people are professing Christians. Or they must let everyone know that they lead Bible studies in the office in the morning before work hours. This kind of dualism comes both from a failure to see the panoramic scope of common grace and the subtle depths of human sin.  People with this view cannot see that work done by non-Christians always contains some degree of God’s common grace as well as the distortions of sin. And they cannot see that work done by Christians, even if it overtly names the name of Jesus, is also significantly distorted by sin.

“The opposite dualistic approach, however, is even more prevalent — and based on our experience, even more difficult to dismantle. In this approach, Christians think of themselves as Christians only within church activity. Their Christian life is what they do on Sundays and weeknights, when they engage in spiritual activities The rest of the week they have no ability to think circumspectly about the underlying values they are consuming and living out. In their life and work “out in the world,” they uncritically accept and reenact all of their culture’s underlying values and idolatries of self, surface appearances, technique, personal freedom, materialism, and other features of expressive individualism. While the first form of dualism fails to grasp the importance of what we have in common with the world, this form fails to grasp the importance of what is distinctive about the Christian worldview — namely, that the gospel reframes all things, not just religious things.

“The integration of faith and work is the opposite of dualism. We should be willing to be very engaged with the cultural and vocational worlds of non-Christians. Our thick view of sin will remind us that even explicitly Christian work and culture will always have some idolatrous discourse within it. Our thick view of common grace will remind us that even explicitly non-Christian work and culture will always have some witness to God’s truth in it. Because Christians are never as good as their right beliefs should make them, we will adopt a stance of critical enjoyment of human culture and its expressions in every field of work. We will learn to recognize the half-truths and resist the idols; and we will learn to recognize and celebrate the glimpses of justice, wisdom, truth, and beauty we find around us in all aspects of life. Ultimately, a grasp of the gospel and of biblical teaching on cultural engagement should lead Christians to be the most appreciative of the hand of God behind the work of our colleagues and neighbors.”

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Doctor, epidemiologist, husband, father, Christian missionary physician

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