Beginning With the End in Mind

Beginning With the End in Mind

As Christians, it is our calling to participate with God in the formation of the world God imagines, desires, and wills. In other words, we do our work with the end in mind. We envision God’s desired future, and then return to the present to enact it through our work.

We receive the kingdom of God into the present by our Godly work. If the kingdom of God is coming toward us from the future, we can be opened to receive it here and now as an expression of the reality of God’s in-breaking reign. This is how the ministry of Jesus is interpreted in the gospels. As Jesus speaks and heals and casts out demons, the kingdom of God comes among them. This is why we pray, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done.” It is the prayer that we might be the place where God’s future is being lived out.

In the days of Isaiah, the nation was on the verge of collapse. The wealthy protected their interests at the cost of the poor. Judges were bribed at the city gates. Merchants used false scales to measure out goods. Land was confiscated and the poor were ensnared in slavery. National security was pursued through conquest of weaker nations. And all of this was occurring under the guise of a covenant with the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. These were “God-fearing people” who were attending temple worship and parading piety while living in violation of God’s law.

In Isaiah 1-6, we find a prophetic critique of their ways. But we also find something else – a vision of the future. Isaiah seeks to correct their actions by calling them to live with the end in mind, to see what God is working toward.

Embedded in the prophetic vision is a call to the kind of work that is a model to all the nations. “The nations shall stream to it. Many peoples shall come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.’”

Teaching A New Way To Work

What would it look like for Christians to do their daily work as if they were teaching the whole world how to work? Nations would stream to the people of God to learn their ways. Our work would be exemplary. We would perform our daily tasks in a way that would serve as instruction for others.

In Isaiah, the people of God were cheating each other at the weight scales, hoping no one saw. They bribed a judge, hoping no one was listening. But if they could have seen themselves as teaching models of commerce and justice in the world, maybe their work would have been worthy of replication.

This is the vision of God for the working world—both then and now.

Sometimes we fail to believe that God speaks into the practices of the workplace. In the sanctuary on Sunday morning about our ethics? Yes. But in the factory on Tuesday afternoon about a problem in shipping? We don’t know.

Yet here is God speaking to us today just as he spoke to his people in the days of Isaiah about work, commerce, and business practices.

This post features an excerpt from my new book, When Christians Clock In, which will be published in 2014.

Comments

  1. Excited about this new book. We have been talking a lot about ‘work matters’ and ‘marketplace ministry’ over the last few months at church with some of our business leaders. It’s been a blessing to see the continuity between Sunday morning worship and the weekly practice of one’s vocation. I look forward to adding ‘When Christians Clock In’ to that conversation.

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