Posted by: Brian Musser | September 7, 2012

Connecting the Environment, Politics and Jobs to Work-Ship (a train of thought)

I was at a meeting late last night on campus, pleasantly avoiding the Democratic Convention until my last facebook check of the evening.  I generally try to avoid politics.  I have strong “political” opinions about the issues but believe that the answers we need never come from party platforms.  We spend too much of our time, energy, effort and money hoping that government will deal with our felt needs.  But the truth is our real needs lie in places that government will never be able to reach.  Fixing what is truly wrong with the world requires a more personal touch.  So in other words, I often feel like I am too busy trying to change people’s lives to invest a whole lot in politics.  I’m sure that paragraph will inspire some comments, but this post isn’t about how I’m not into politics.  It is about how the Democratic Convention triggered a train of thought that eventually found its way to Work-Ship.

About 9 PM last night a facebook friend posted a question about John Kerry’s use of the Bible to support caring for our planet.  I responded referencing: Genesis 1:26 – 28, Genesis 2:15 and Romans 8:19 -22.  These passages are often used to construct a Biblical approach to how Christians should deal with the creation.  A full exposition on this is beyond the scope of the passage.  If you are interested in a Christian discussion on environmental issues I suggest Redeeming Creation: The Biblical Basis for Environmental Stewardship.  I had the privilege of taking ecology from one of the authors at Messiah College.  As I was responding with those passages I noticed that they were also passages that I have used in my formation of Work-Ship. I noticed the Work-Ship connection but the train didn’t quite go that direction, yet.  Genesis 1:26 and 28 use the concept of “ruling” to describe our relationship with the environment.  In our Christian doctrine our definitions of “ruling” over creation have been lacking.  We have often exploited creation for our own benefit claiming that the exploitations were within our rights as God’s established sovereign rulers.

Which led me to the next station stop which was back at politics.  Throughout history we have said very similar things in reference to our human governments, monarchs, dictators, republics etc.  We have the tendency to assume that ruling is for the benefit of the ruler.  In western political tradition we have dealt with this in many of our historical documents starting with the Magna Carta, including the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.  Abraham Lincoln in his Gettysburg address expressed it memorably,…that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”  We still get it wrong often but at least in theory we have come to recognize that government should be for the benefit of those governed and not for the governors.  We understand this less when we shift our attention back onto humanity’s rule over creation.  We are still working on that.

Then my train of  thought traveled to the sublime.  God’s sovereignty over the universe might not always lead to actions that benefit God.  He might rule in such a way that benefits us greater than He benefits Himself.  (I’m expecting John Piper fans to have some issues with that last statement.)  God does not rule in such a way that only seeks His personal benefit but in such a way that has the best for his entire creation in mind.  We see this type of action in the very act of creation.  We can find it in redemption and restoration.  We see this in God’s sustaining work and undeniable patience.  God rules by sacrificing his personal resources for our good.  The creation has been a very expensive endeavor for God especially when we consider Christ’s death on the cross.  Personal sacrifice for the good of those being ruled is a defining mark of God-like ruling.

And now we complete our journey with a stop at Work-Ship.  as we look at our work most of us will have some capacity in which we “rule.”  We have a domain at work which is under our responsibility.  Teachers “rule” students.  Manager “rule” employees.  Farmers “rule” gardens.  Newspaper deliverers “rule” routes.  Through our work we exercise a measure of control over the rest of creation.  We need to “rule” at work in the image of God.  We need to actively consider what is best for the rest of creation when it come to our work decisions.

  • What part of your job do you “rule” over?
  • How do you make decisions in that portion of your job?
  • Is there a specific change that you can make this week that will allow you to “rule” better at work?
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