WiW: On Christian Occupation

The Week in Words

On what sets Christians apart:

“‘And they’re all so–so happy in their Christianity,’ said Davy.

And I said, ‘Could it be–that happiness–what’s called “Christian joy”, do you think?’

That night I wrote in our journal: ‘The best argument for Christianity is Christians: their joy, their certainty, their completeness….Indeed, there are impressive indications that the positive quality of joy is in Christianity–and possibly nowhere else. If that were certain, it would be proof of a very high order.'”

~Sheldon Vanauken, A Severe Mercy

Christians, and Christians alone, have reason to walk in joy. For it is only we who have certainty of God’s favor, certainty of eternal life, certainty of purpose. We are called to rejoice in all things (Philippians 4:4)–and we have reason to do so.

I love the concept of Christian hedonism–and John Piper’s twist on the Westminster catechism’s answer to the question “What is the chief end of man?” Piper suggests that it should be “to glorify God by enjoying Him forever.”

As Christians, our joy and our occupation are one and the same–the glorification of God. Our task is to glorify Him–and glorifying Him brings us joy.

“Christian joy” is how all other occupations take on their meaning.

On what the world needs:

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

~Howard Thurman (HT: Semicolon)

The only way to truly come alive is to know Christ Jesus, to be crucified with Him and raised to newness of life through Him. But there is a very real sense in which people who do what energizes them are a blessing to the world, simply because they take pleasure in their work.

The thought reminds me of another quote, this one by Eric Liddell, “I believe that God made me for a purpose, but He also made me fast. When I run, I feel His pleasure.”

Just as Christian joy is not an end in and of itself, but a logical outcome of glorifying God, so outreach is not an end in and of itself, but a direct outcome of the Christian’s pleasure in God and awareness of God’s pleasure in him.

What this world needs is fully alive people, walking (or running) in the pleasure of the Lord.

On the virtue of wasting time:

“Drinking beer with friends is perhaps the most underestimated of all Reformation insights and essential to ongoing reform.”

~Carl Truman

This article was really quite insightful, talking about the value of rest. It reminded me of I Corinthians 10:31 “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” And indeed, while the worldly man is given either to workaholism or to sloth, the Christian has reason to rejoice in both diligent work and regular rest.

Whether you’re a beer drinker or not (I’m not–stuff smells too nasty!), there’s a definite aspect in which this is true. Time “wasted” in relaxation and relationships (not in front of the tube) has purpose. God Himself rested, setting a pattern for us to follow. And God designed us to live in relationship with others.

We can glorify God as we run, as we work, as we play, as we relax with a cup/mug/glass of our beverage of choice.

We can do all things for the glory of God. And, as John Piper puts it, God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.

Collect more quotes from throughout the week with Barbara H’s meme “The Week in Words”.