J.K. Wall is a business journalist in Indianapolis, where he is a member of the Christ Church Reformed Presbyterian congregation. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history, writing his master’s thesis on the early sermons of Augustine of Hippo. His book Messiah the Prince Revisited, a modern update on Scottish theologian William Symington’s book, was published in September by Crown & Covenant Publications. J.K. applies Symington’s book to the issue of work in this post entitled “Christ is Using You, Right Now, to Build His Kingdom.”
I’m a follow-the-money reporter at a city business journal, which is owned by non-Christian businessmen and run by editors with a slightly left-of-center bent.
And yet, I know my work is helping to build the kingdom of Jesus Christ and change the world every day.
In fact, I know your work is too.
How am I so certain? Because the Bible tells us that Christ, as our Redeemer, is using all people and their work to accomplish His work: the building of His church and, through it, the transforming of the world.
This is the special insight articulated by William Symington in Messiah the Prince. I have written a new version of Symington’s 19th Century classic in simplified language for today’s reader—especially young people and lay people.
Jesus is—right now—king over all things. Symington cites dozens of scripture passages that make this truth abundantly clear. And Jesus is directing all things—great and small, good and bad—for one specific purpose: for the good of His church.
The key Bible text for Symington is Eph 1:20-22, which says that God the Father raised Christ from the dead, made Christ king “at His right hand,” and gave Christ control over all things for the benefit of the people He is redeeming, the church.
“He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power … And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church,” Paul wrote in his letter to the Ephesians.
Christ was of course already king over everything as its Creator. But Symington argues, with lots of biblical evidence, that Christ is also now king over everything as Redeemer.
Why is that important?
Because it means that everything—including your mundane work—is being used by Christ in a worldwide mission with spiritual and eternal significance.
Being a follower of Christ means we get to consciously participate with Jesus in His world-changing work. He does not need us to, but it is a privilege we enjoy as members of his kingdom.
How do we join Christ in this worldwide work of redemption? Symington’s advice can be boiled down to these points:
- Recognize that Christ is king: Not just king over the church, but king over every group we’re a part of: our family, our school, our business, our nation.
- Use the Bible as our starting point: It gives us specific commands and general principles by which we should run our families, schools, businesses, governments and, of course, churches.
- Help the church: All families, schools, businesses, governments and any other groups should understand that Christ is using them to help his church. And they should look for ways to participate in that work.
- Rest in Christ’s power: If we truly believe Christ is the Redeemer King over our work, then we can also trust that Christ will accomplish His redemptive work whether or not we have followed steps 1-3 successfully, whether or not the person in the next cubicle is following steps 1-3, whether or not the boss or the president or the culture in general is following Christ.
How exactly Christ uses our work to help in His work of gathering His people into the church and protecting it, we don’t know. But let me offer a couple concrete examples to help you grasp the idea.
Christians who are founding or leading organizations can directly make declarations of Christ’s kingship or set policies that follow biblical principles. A good example of a businessman doing this is David Green, the CEO of Hobby Lobby. See how Green in this Forbes profile clearly acknowledges Christ as king and states that he has worked to support the church by, for instance, keeping his stores closed on Sunday. http://www.forbes.com/sites/briansolomon/2012/09/18/david-green-the-biblical-billionaire-backing-the-evangelical-movement/
For myself and most others, we are not the founders of our own enterprises. So we don’t get to craft the mission statement or set the rules of how our organization will operate.
We must realize, however, that whatever we’re doing, we are working in one of the great departments of Christ’s kingdom, which He uses to build the church and transform the world.
Truck drivers and supermarket cashiers and waitresses are part of the feed-the-world department of Christ’s kingdom. Lawyers are part of Christ’s justice department. Artists and musicians are part of Christ’s joy department.
Christ uses all these things—food, justice, joy—to bring sinners into the church and, once they have come to faith, to grow that faith.
As a journalist, I get to work in the truthtelling department of Christ’s kingdom. Christ uses my attempts to publicize true information—even my erroneous attempts—for “the maintaining and promoting of truth between man and man.” That’s what the Ninth Commandment, according to the Westminster Shorter Catechism, requires us to do.
Christ can certainly convert sinners in the midst of a culture of lies. But clearly a culture that promotes truth will be less antagonistic to the preaching of the gospel, which is the Truth. As the gospel is believed, those who believe it will, in turn, promote a culture of truth.
As they do so, Christ brings more people into His church. And the cycle continues.
As a Christian writing newspaper articles about local businesses, I get to play a small part in this grand, spiritual, eternal work. How cool is that?
You can do the same if you acknowledge Christ as king and seek to do your work according to the commands Christ gives in the Bible for the departments you labor in.
Christ is using all of us to build His church. Now let’s willingly join Him in that work.