Tim Keller Answers, “How Does the Gospel Shape and Inform Our Work?”

1. Our faith changes our motivation for work. For professionals and others who are prone to overwork and anxiety, the gospel prevents us from finding our significance and identity in money and success. For working-class people who are prone to captivation to what Paul calls “eyeservice” (Col 3:22 KJV; “their eye is on you,” NIV) and drudgery, our faith directs us to “work . . . with all [our] heart, as working for the Lord” (Col 3:23).

2. Our faith changes our conception of work. A robust theology of creation — and of God’s love and care for it — helps us see that even simple tasks such as making a shoe, filling a tooth, and digging a ditch are ways to serve God and build up human community. Our cultural pro- duction rearranges the material world in such a way that honors God and promotes human flourishing. A good theology of work resists the modern world’s tendency to value only expertise in the pursuits that command more money and power.

3. Our faith provides high ethics for Christians in the workplace. Many things are technically legal but biblically immoral and unwise and therefore out of bounds for believers. The ethical norms of the Christian life, grounded in the gospel of grace, should always lead believers to function with an extremely high level of integrity in their work.

4. Our faith gives us the basis for reconceiving the very way in which our kind of work is done. Every community works on the basis of a collective map of what is considered most important. If God and his grace are not at the center of a culture, then other things will be substituted as ultimate values. So every vocational field is distorted by idolatry. Christian medical professionals will soon see that some practices make money for them but don’t add value to patients’ lives. Christians in marketing will discern accepted patterns of communication that distort reality, manipulate emotions, or play to the worst aspects of the human heart. Christians in business will often discern a bias to seek short-term financial profit at the expense of the company’s long- term health or to adopt practices that put financial profit ahead of the good of employees, customers, or others in the community. Christians in the arts live and work in a culture in which narcissistic self-expression can become the ultimate end. And in most vocational fields, believers encounter workplaces in which ruthless, competitive behavior is the norm. A Christian worldview provides believers with ways to interpret the philosophies and practices that dominate their field and bring renewal and reform to them.

Tim Keller, Center Church (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012) pp. 335-36