How Does Sanctification Work? by David Powlison, Free for CAPC Members
David Powlison dispels the myth that there is a “key to sanctification” and then lays the biblical groundwork for spiritual growth.
“Work” might be a forbidden four-letter word for many of us. We don’t like it, and we want to do as little as possible to reap its benefits. Tom Nelson tackles this tension in Work Matters: Connecting Sunday Worship to Monday Work, which Crossway has graciously made available free this month Christ and Pop Culture members.
Near the beginning of the book, Nelson states, “The Bible clearly tells us that while not a result of the fall, work itself was profoundly impacted” (37). We are all too aware of this impact, and often may experience groaning and frustration with what we do to earn a living. Fortunately, there is a positive side of work, and unpacking that is the burden of Work Matters.
Digging deeper into Scripture, Nelson explains that work is about “God-honoring human creativity and contribution” (24). He goes on to say,
Humankind, the crown of creation, was created for the glory of God and entrusted with a remarkable stewardship exercising dominion over the earth. A vital aspect of this stewardship is the essential work not only of tending things and making things but also of cultivating and creating culture (25).
Using this basic understanding of work, Nelson helps readers re-think their everyday work in light of a biblical perspective. After connecting what we may deem as toil to the gospel, Nelson offers an eschatological perspective of work. He says,
If we are going to do God-honoring work, if we are going to be a faithful presence in our workplaces, then we must grasp in a compelling way that our present work fits into the future that awaits us. So often I hear from well-meaning people in the marketplace that their daily work seems so boring or to be such a waste of time. I am not minimizing the seemingly inefficient and mundane aspects that can be part of our work. Every job has a host of tasks that don’t really excite us or unleash our creative energies. But if we will look at our work through the lens of Holy Scripture, our work, no matter what we have been called to do, is imbued with great meaning and significance (77).
Nelson then goes on to argue that there is no merely ordinary work when it is understood in light of the church’s teaching on vocation. Worth noting here is how much more time Jesus spent as a carpenter than as an itinerant minister. Further, Nelson argues how your workplace can be a space for your personal growth, as well as your main sphere of influence in the world. Through your work, you are able to be a faithful presence, and ultimately, no job is too small or mundane to potentially contribute to the common good.
Throughout Work Matters, Nelson looks at work from a variety of angles–always with an eye to connecting our daily lives with biblical teaching. In doing so, he provides readers with a much needed resource to think and reflect on our work, whatever it may be. Work is avenue for creativity and reflecting the image of God that we all share. As Nelson poignantly concludes,
The magnum opus of most of our lives will not be seen under the bright lights of visibility, but will be the extraordinary impact of our ordinary day-to-day life, faithfully lived in extraordinary ways. It is in and through our vocations that the love of Christ shines bright, and the gospel is winsomely lived out and persuasively proclaimed, and where God desires our good work to be well done. It is where our Sunday faith and our Monday work meet (200).
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