By Ciera Heimbigner, Bethel Seminary San Diego
Jesus once spoke these now-famous words: “This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven’” (NIV Matt. 6:9-10).
Author Amy L. Sherman addresses what God’s kingdom on earth should be by delving into the idea of individuals’ “vocational stewardship for the common good” in her book Kingdom Calling. Building upon this idea, Tim Keller, in his book, Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work, enlightens readers who desire to make the connection and integration of their faith and work to the idea that all work is meaningful and can be done unto the Lord. Finally, Your New Money Mindset, authored by Brad Hewitt and James Moline, offers insight into work, money, and heart issues. These concepts go hand-in-hand while considering work and why we do what we do or why we feel called to certain kinds of work. Ultimately, through these three books (Sherman’s Kingdom Calling, Keller’s Every Good Endeavor, and Hewitt and Moline’s Your New Money Mindset) readers learn that humans partake in building God’s Kingdom through their work, that God completes human work in the redemption process, that Christ teaches us to walk in generosity and not scarcity no matter our incomes, and that this kingdom mindset of being called, working, and thriving should be adopted by every believer in Christ.
Amy Sherman spends some time building the idea of the eschatological, consummated kingdom that will be the new heavens and earth one day, revealing that the kingdom of God is designed to function in a state of shalom, which she categorizes into four parts: 1) peace with God, 2) peace with self, 3) peace with others, and 4) peace with creation. She creates the image of an idealized reality (the new heavens and earth), but until “change, healing, renewal, [and] resurrection” happens in full in the future reality God has planned for humanity, she also advocates for Christians to fulfill their kingdom callings here and now through vocational work that advances justice, hope, and shalom for all. She states, “But the gospel of the kingdom tells us not only what we’re saved from, but also what we’re saved for. We have a purpose, we have a sacred calling, we have a God-given vocation: to partner with God in his work of restoring all things” (87). Not only are we saved from our sins, but we are saved for the purpose of advancing God’s kingdom with him. Further, Sherman recognizes the role of hope for the suffering when she states: “Offering hope to those who feel hopeless is kingdom work” (38). It is with these mindsets then that she endeavors to unveil a new way of reaching the oppressed while kingdom workers live out the purposes God has for them. Followers of Christ share a unique burden that advances the kingdom of God. Through the Holy Spirit within us, we can begin this kingdom work by heeding Christ and following his call upon our unique situations and lives, one step at a time.
Tim Keller’s book, Every Good Endeavor targets the working individual who wants to connect their work to faith regardless of the work they’re called to. Keller claims: “thinking of work mainly as a means of self-fulfillment and self-realization slowly crushes a person,” revealing that this is not the purpose of our work, but, in fact, the idea of “work” implies a purpose for the sake of others (2). The work we begin on earth will be completed in heaven through the Holy Spirit – even if we cannot complete it with our short time and limited capabilities on earth. Keller’s book articulates the great call for individuals to do the work that they can accomplish to the best of their abilities and to entrust the completion of the work (without idolizing our work) to the only One who can truly complete it.
Keller’s book also states the importance of working when he says, “According to the Bible, we don’t merely need money from the work to survive; we need the work itself to survive and live fully human lives” and also claiming, “[w]e were built for work and the dignity it gives us as human beings, regardless of its status or pay” (24; 41). These thoughts lead into the views on money that Brad Hewitt and James Moline investigate in their book, Your New Money Mindset, which reveals our unhealthy relationships with money. Essentially, Hewitt and Moline assert that “more” does not satisfy, but, in effect, perpetuates more need. The underlining thesis of their book is that “the more readily we share our time, energy, and money, the more joy we discover in life” (23). The book outlines, based on research, five major mindsets people tend to apply to money, including: 1) Surviving, 2) Struggling, 3) Stable, 4) Secure, and 5) Surplus, with the “surplus” mindset being the ideal to attain (27). While poverty is a real issue many face and there are stigmas and shame associated with our incomes, these authors point readers to the truth of our finances and overcoming a negative money mindset no matter our income levels, when they remind readers of the following truths: “Jesus says our security comes from the fact that God loves us” and “our most vital step in overcoming fear is to put our trust in the One who created us, loves us, and sacrificed himself for us, and who sustains us daily as we invest in a rich relationship with him” (78; 91). Our relationship with Christ and trust in Him to provide for our needs are of vital importance when looking at our financial situation and choosing to move from a scarcity mentality to that of generosity. This is where thriving truly begins.
Overall, each of these books contributes vital truths when it comes to being a Christ follower and the work we do. God created work for good. He invites his creation to participate in his work. Though we cannot complete anything on our own, through assistance and co-dependence upon others, as well as reliance upon the Holy Spirit, we are able to live out our callings and meet the needs of others, knowing our work has eternal impact in the kingdom of God in the eschatological implications of our reality. Jesus brought the heavenly kingdom with him to earth, and he invites us to do the same.
I am in a season of discovering my work calling and trusting God with my finances. My calling for now is meager as I am a student, a prayer warrior and an academic tutor. Yet, I know this time of preparation is of vital importance as I am shaped into the leader he desires me to become. I am grateful that in the kingdom of God, no day is wasted, no prayer is unheard, and that our God sees our work and completes it even when we cannot. I am grateful that I am called to kingdom work and I can participate in the advancement of the gospel and restoration here and now as well as eternally. These books have opened my eyes to see how God wants me to participate in this world: under a kingdom mindset. I am called; God will complete the work in and through me – even if I can’t. And I can thrive because Jesus calls us to abundant living (John 10:10). The same invitation is extended to all Christ followers.
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