Blog - Doing Earthwork
Faith Outside the BoxThursday, July 11, 2013
Compartments. They’re often useful. Freezers and ovens are both compartments—one for ice cream, one for baking cookies. But other things should not be compartmentalized. For example, our faith should not be kept in a Sunday box. It needs to reach and transform all our weekdays—and workdays—as well.
Some 70 years ago Dietrich Bonhoeffer was arguing against compartmentalizing the Christian faith. I’m currently reading Eric Metaxas’ book, Bonhoeffer. In summarizing what the German pastor was saying in letters to a friend in 1944, Metaxas writes: ". . . he wondered whether it wasn’t finally time for the lordship of Jesus Christ to move past Sunday mornings and churches and into the whole world.”
"Bonhoeffer was wondering,” Metaxas continues, "if it wasn’t time to bring God into the whole world and stop pretending he wanted to only live in those religious corners that we reserved for him.” Imagine trying to confine the Creator-Sustainer-Redeemer-Completer God inside a "religious corner”!
Decades before, Abraham Kuyper, the Dutch theologian-statesman, had said, "No single piece of our mental world is to be hermetically sealed off from the rest, there is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!’”
Kuyper, of course, was only echoing what the Psalmist had recognized centuries earlier: "God is the King of all the earth” (Ps. 47:7).
But we still find it hard to imagine that "all the earth” means the whole planet, including those things we humans have made from the raw materials God provided. A hymn by Richard Granville Jones calls us out of our compartmentalized thinking:
God of concrete, God of steel, God of piston and of wheel, God of pylon, God of steam, God of girder and of beam, God of atom, God of mine, All the world of power is thine.
Lord of cable, Lord of rail, Lord of motorway and mail, Lord of rocket, Lord of flight, Lord of soaring satellite, Lord of lightning’s livid line, All the world of speed is thine.
Lord of science, Lord of art, God of map and graph and chart, Lord of physics and research, Word of Bible, faith of Church, Lord of sequence and design, All the world of truth is thine.
God whose glory fills the earth, Gave the universe its birth, Loosed the Christ with Easter’s might, Saves the world from evil’s blight Claims us all by grace divine, All the world of love is thine.
Concrete. Steel. Wheels. Girders. Beams. Rails. Rockets. Satellites. Physics. Research. Art. Those and more are the things we deal with during our workdays. All of them possible only because people have rearranged stuff created by and for the One who is "Lord of all” (Acts 10:36). Jesus is as fully Lord of those weekday-workday things as he is of our Sunday gatherings.