What Does Faith Have To Do With Economics?

Bridge the Divide

Most people divide their lives into the work week and the weekend. Church and all things spiritual tend to stay holed up on the weekend. But what would life look like—what would work look like—if we saw every hour and every relationship as an opportunity to live out the Christian life? In this video produced by the Made to Flourish Network, Greg Forster, the Director of the Oikonomia Network, discusses the importance of bridging our faith not only to our work, but to our relationships, too.

Work is a social connection. It's a place where we interact with people both by providing some kind of service to them, but also by receiving from others their own service. God has placed His people intentionally into this economic exchange so that we can both serve others and show thankfulness to them. Work rightly understood becomes an exercise in loving our neighbors.

How often do you think of the work week as an opportunity to engage in worship of God? Do you see work as a distinct entity from worship? Why or why not?
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Typically, how do you understand Jesus' command to "love your neighbor"? How does good work fit into that understanding?
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When we understand our jobs as a place where God can show up, we start to bridge the gap between Sunday and Monday. But we do more than simply do our work in a faithful fashion. We must see those people who affect our work or whom we affect as opportunities to serve. Our bosses, clients, customers, investors, or suppliers are our neighbors. 

It's About All of Us

As you develop your faith at work, it can be easy to fall into a very narrow, self-focused view of living. But you don't have a job without having other people involved. Greg shares in this next video the importance of moving from faith-in-work to faith-in-economics. It's critical that we see our faith as others-focused. Both reaching out to others in humble service, and loving them through thankful reception of their service.

If we're going to live out our faith in every hour and every sphere of our lives, we need to move beyond our own experience to loving others through our work. Every job is a relational job because it supports and depends on others. Our gospel-shaped life needs to be focused on others—both the people of God on Sunday and the people He wants to reach in our workplaces.

The economy is a vast web of relationships. How many different groups of people does your work impact? What about depend on?
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The economy, according to Greg, is a moral system. The church that engages in godly behavior in the economy can shape the fabric of relationships in the workplace. What would your local community's economy look like if you and your fellow church members lived godly, others-loving lives? What would the country's economy looked like if God's people loved others well in their work?
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What would have to change in your church to help people move toward integrating their faith with not only their work, but the economies they live in as well?
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People matter to God. As the people of God, people should matter to us, too. As you look toward engaging in your workplace with the gospel, it's critical that you maintain an others-oriented attitude. Keep your eyes focused on the people that God would have you reach for His glory. 

The Poor Need More Than Money

God cares about people, and He deeply cares about the poor and marginalized. The church tends to focus on materially helping the poor to overcome their destitute situations. But Greg says we need to take it one step farther—we need to rebuild the relationships that the marginalized and the poor have lost. The poor need more than money. 

Greg argues that the church is only truly being the church when it also has concern for the poor and the marginalized. But rather than simply helping the poor with material goods, he challenges us to help them to flourish as humans. And that means helping them to restore their relationships. Not only does this mean reestablishing work for the poor, but also rebuilding family and friendships.

How has your church helped the poor in the past? In light of your experiences in helping the poor, what stood out to you in Greg's short talk?
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In your church's engagement with the poor and disenfranchised, who could you talk to (elder, deacon, pastor) about helping the poor to rebuild proper relationships in the world?
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What will you do differently this week in light of Greg's points on integrating faith not only with work, but with all of your economic relationships?
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Relationships make us human. God has given us His Son, Jesus, to restore us to right relationship with Him. Our God is deeply concerned with the lost people of this world, and we have a unique opportunity through the workplace to love, serve, and show the gospel to those lost. As you work to integrate faith and work, don't forget the people, too.

To find out more about the ministry of Made to Flourish, click here.