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    « Tim Keller on MSNBC | Main | Christianity and All Forms of Work »
    Thursday
    Dec062012

    Common Grace :: Appreciating Good Work in All Forms

    Año Mozart

    Common grace is a notion that is having a bit of a resurgence, and for good reason. In a predominantly Christian culture, the occurrences of grace outside of Christian circles are seldom noticed, for it is seldom experienced. But in a post-Christian culture, where more and more Christians find themselves working alongside or in partnership with non-Christians, experiences of truth and beauty apart from Christian belief widen our conception of God's work and God's grace, and with good reason. While God is at work in a unique way within the communities and individual lives of those who profess faith in Jesus, God is not confined to those circles. And thank goodness!

    Today we consider common grace as we continue meditating on work. "Common grace," or the notion that God dispenses good gifts to people of all races and cultures regardless of belief in him, is testified to in the Bible and has a rich history within the Christian theological tradition. This doctrine has implications for work and for our interactions with others in society, and is quite liberating for our relationships with friends and neighbors who are do not believe in Christ. A robust understanding of common grace frees us to engage with and study all of human culture, and to work together with people of good will who are also unbelievers, when our purposes overlap.

    Timothy Keller is again illuminating:

    Without an understanding of common grace, Christians will believe they can live self-sufficiently within their own cultural enclave. Some might feel that we should go only to Christian doctors, work only with Christian lawyers, listen only to Christian counselors, or enjoy only Christian artists. Of course, all non-believers have seriously impaired spiritual vision. Yet so many of the gifts God has put in the world are given to non-believers. Mozart was a gift to us--whether he was a believer or not. So Christians are free to study the world of human culture in order to know more of God; for as creatures made in his image we can appreciate truth and wisdom wherever we find it.

    Common grace means that good work can be found in every field of endeavor, being performed by Christians and non-Christians alike. But Keller, again with wisdom, says, "Christians' work with others should be marked by both humble cooperation and respectful provocation." Our tradition gives us the resources to work with others outside our community for the common good, while also naming "how our own Christian faith gives us powerful resources and guidance for what we are doing."

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