Darryl Dash offers some quotes from John Calvin's Institutes on the subject of Church Finances, including this line: "Remember that you are not handling your own property, but that destined for the necessities of the poor."
See also Ray Mayhew, Embezzlement: The Corporate Sin of Contemporary Christianity? (pdf). I've mentioned the article several times in the past, but it's worth linking to again.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
In The Kingdom Work of the Corporate World, Richard Dorster issues a challenge:
Christian artists add beauty and complexity to God’s creation, transforming the raw materials of paint, language, and sound into finished products that proclaim God’s glory.
Where are their business counterparts — the entrepreneurs and corporate executives who, with the same passion, reshape the world through business? And who, intentionally and for the sake of God’s glory, manage the power of free markets to make the world more productive? Where are the Christians who are propelling the world’s best corporations?
God’s people can, as agents of His redemptive plan, transform business, stripping it of selfish ambition and pursuing instead what’s best for their neighbors. Through business, God’s people can harness mankind’s creativity, and with it nurture His creation, developing products that make the world more satisfying. Through the economic power of commerce, Christians can make the world safer and healthier. The members of Christ’s Church, distributed in offices around the world, can transform greed into good stewardship, showing the world that business has a biblical responsibility to create new wealth and provide a fair return to investors (Matthew 25:14-28). But, with an eye toward the consummation of Christ’s kingdom, we also create wealth in order to create new and satisfying jobs, which offer the hope (and perhaps a glimpse) of a coming world where there is no poverty.
God has placed His people in business so that they can — in humility, and making full use of the talents and resources He’s given — serve customers, employees, suppliers, and the world at large, looking out for the interests of others and providing for their needs.
On their deathbeds, many Christians will regret that they didn’t love their neighbors, care for the poor, or advance Christ’s kingdom as they should have. They might therefore, with their final breath, gasp: “I wish I’d spent more time at the office.”
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Charles Colson on how the church functions as the church:
It is within the church particular [a local body of believers] that we commit ourselves to intimate relationships with fellow believers and submit ourselves to accountability, duties, and responsibilities. In this community our Christian character is shaped; it is the context in which our gifts are developed and exercised. It is the family whose ties cannot be broken. It is the training camp that disciples and equips believers to be God’s people against the world and for the world. If we don’t grasp the intrinsically corporate nature of Christianity embodied in the church, we are missing the very heart of Jesus’ plan (The Body, p. 277).
Sunday, December 06, 2009
Another excerpt from The Gospel Coalition's "Theological Vision for Ministry" is this statement of how the gospel affects our work:
The good news of the Bible is not only individual forgiveness but the renewal of the whole creation. God put humanity in the garden to cultivate the material world for his own glory and for the flourishing of nature and the human community. The Spirit of God not only converts individuals (e.g., John 16:8) but also renews and cultivates the face of the earth (e.g., Gen 1:2; Psalm 104:30). Therefore Christians glorify God not only through the ministry of the Word, but also through their vocations of agriculture, art, business, government, scholarship—all for God’s glory and the furtherance of the public good. Too many Christians have learned to seal off their faith–beliefs from the way they work in their vocation. The gospel is seen as a means of finding individual peace and not as the foundation of a worldview—a comprehensive interpretation of reality affecting all that we do. But we have a vision for a church that equips its people to think out the implications of the gospel on how we do carpentry, plumbing, data–entry, nursing, art, business, government, journalism, entertainment, and scholarship. Such a church will not only support Christians’ engagement with culture, but will also help them work with distinctiveness, excellence, and accountability in their trades and professions. Developing humane yet creative and excellent business environments out of our understanding of the gospel is part of the work of bringing a measure of healing to God’s creation in the power of the Spirit. Bringing Christian joy, hope, and truth to embodiment in the arts is also part of this work. We do all of this because the gospel of God leads us to it, even while we recognize that the ultimate restoration of all things awaits the personal and bodily return of our Lord Jesus Christ.