Integrating Faith, Work, and Justice

Here at Until Zion we are animated by three defining values: the theology of the Reformation, the centering of the margins and the patience of the Kingdom. You can read more about these values here. Part of what this means is that we believe that God’s sovereign grace in Jesus Christ lays claim to our whole lives, not just to our private spirituality or personal morals. One of the hallmarks of the Reformation was that it championed the priesthood of all believers and the sacredness of all vocations because all of life, and not just the religious life, was lived coram deo, that is, before the face of God.


In particular though, we believe this means that the Christian is called specifically to enact the margin-centering, power-inverting way of the Kingdom of God in every area of life. That is to say, the prophet Micah’s call to “do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with your God” is a call that is intended to find expression in every sphere of the Christian’s life. The power-inverting way of the Kingdom is the texture of the Christian life that makes the good news of Jesus tangible to our neighbors.


One of the primary yet often overlooked ways Christians are called to embody this margin-centering, power-inverting way of the kingdom is through their daily work. In my experience, conversations about faith and work integration often center around the renewal of “industries” and “sectors” of society. It challenges Christians to pursue important goals of “human flourishing” and “the common good” through their work. These are crucial important concepts to help reframe the purpose of work around the biblical storyline of creation, fall, and redemption. But what can often be missing is connecting this broad, somewhat abstract vision to more concrete practices of pursuing justice and mercy through the actual stuff of one’s work.


Similarly, conversations about the importance of justice-seeking often center around the local neighborhood and challenge Christians to get involved in local community engagement. Readers of Until Zion will know that we see this as a crucial element of holistic Christian discipleship. In its best expressions, these conversations will go a step further and challenge Christians to invest in local economic and enterprise development in lower-income communities. The pursuit of justice includes the creation of meaningful work. Michael Rhodes and Robby Holt’s book Practicing the King’s Economy is an outstanding example of this. But for many, this approach still locates the pursuit of justice outside of the actual work of their paid professions.


Given that most of us spend the majority of our waking hours at work, it would be fair to say that we have not given sufficient attention to what it means to integrate justice and mercy into our workplaces and the everyday work we do. In fact, a strong case could be made that many of the injustices that impact peoples’ lives on the ground are often downstream of decisions that are made and resources that are allocated in a conference room or council room somewhere where people (including Christians) are pursuing purposes of profit or power or control, purposes that at times can be directly at odds with the purpose of loving one's neighbor.


But what if the primary way you and I were called to seek justice and love mercy was through the daily work that God has called us to do? What if your particular profession or occupation is the primary way that Jesus has asked you to obey his command to “love thy neighbor”?


These are some of the themes we explore in a new six session video course and workbook developed by Redeemer City to City’s Global Faith and Work Initiative entitled The Missional Disciple: Pursuing Mercy and Justice at Work. I had the opportunity to work alongside some of my dearest friends and colleagues at City to City North America like Dennae Pierre, Robert Guerrero, and Kimberly Deckel to cover crucial topics such as “What is biblical justice?”, “Loving your neighbor through your work” and “The inner life of a leader.”


You can find out more about this new resource and about our friends at The Global Faith and Work Initiative by visiting globalfaithandwork.com/missionaldisciple. Our prayer is that it might help nudge the church – in both its gathered and scattered forms – toward a more faithful pursuit of the power-inverting, Christ-exalting ways of the City of Zion in every area of life.