"We can glorify God and serve others through the workplace, business, community projects, government and artistic endeavour. Above all, we litter the world with communities of light, inviting people to submit to the lordship of Jesus and enjoy His grace. Our interest in mission starts with our own neighbourhood and extends to the end of the earth." p. 78
Despite occasional frustrations at the lack of breadth and depth to the theology, I have enjoyed reading this book. It is a book designed to ground you, and so planted firmly in the gospel, to inspire, challenge, and guide you in growth. This final part of the book examines different aspects of living a gospel-centred life: decisions, relationships, friends, horizons, possessions and suffering. In reading this I not only think about the areas in my life which need change, but also kept thinking about people who are striving to live lives where Christ Jesus and his lordship and God and his glory are primary.
I think of a friend who works part-time and looks after her one-year-old, all the while opening her house to both her Church community and people in need, often at personal cost. I think of another friend who owns and runs his own business and has directed company profits to supporting Christian ministry. I am reminded of the couple from a previous church who moved from comfortable and cool inner suburbs to outer suburbia to love and serve their Church family and to share Christ within their new community.
None of these people are in paid Christian ministry.
And neither is Regina.
Regina attends the evening service at my church. I was struck when reading this book and reflecting on various people I knew about how Regina had been living out a gospel-centred life. For the previous two years she has been studying theology part-time and working as a social worker part-time. She was also volunteering one or two days a week to helping out with church, either with administration or with pastoral care.
I interviewed Regina specifically for this blog, and in doing so discovered that her story is really what Gospel-centred Life is all about. She came to know the grace of God bestowed on her through Jesus Christ and that good news changed her and continues to change her. She has seen God at work through other Christians: meeting up one-on-one with an older woman at church to read the Bible and pray, and working closely with the ministry staff helped her to see the care these people had for their church family, and how they put God first.
She went to Bible College because she saw the value in learning deeply from God’s word in the same way she had spent time studying to become a social worker, wanting to be able to have answers to the hope she has in Christ and developing her own understanding of the Bible. She continues to want to work in the secular world as she sees how important it is to have Christians in the workplace, but was willing to take a pay cut and willing to quit her previous job when part-time work was no longer made available for her. She doesn’t see what she has done as “giving up work” and, in fact, eschews such terminology. In her mind she hasn’t given up anything, but gained things in loving and serving her Church family.
I am greatly encouraged by Regina's story, but mainly because it points to Christ and his lordship over her life. Her story is every Christian's story. It is the story of a life that is transformed by grace, which is lived in community, declaring Christ’s lordship over the world, for the glory of God.
“Give thanks to the LORD; proclaim His name!
Celebrate His deeds among the peoples.
Declare that His name is exalted.
Sing to the LORD, for He has done glorious things.
Let this be known throughout the earth.” (Isaiah 12.4-5)