For most of my pastoral work I’ve been situated in Johannesburg. It is the commerce center of the South African economy. Like all cities, this one poses some unique challenges to the shape of the Jesus life. The people I work with (for this city also has an influence on me) are influenced by the city’s business and busyness. Also by the creative energy needed to keep some of our country’s main businesses on the cutting edge.
Our favorite idols are money, being busy and climbing the corporate ladder. Not terribly unique but definitely unique in its totality.
Within this ministry milieu I harbor a secret desire. It is fueled by one of Jesus’ more obscure parables. It is the story of the crooked manager. If you’re not to familiar with it, then you can read Luke 16:1-13 here.
The crux comes when Jesus says that,
… the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light.
So here is my pastoral fantasy. I sometimes wish that the cumulative energy used in businesses and corporations (dealings with their own kind) can be transferred into kingdom endeavors. Folk in my city who gather under the banner of Jesus spend hours of their energy enriching companies. This is not bad (for the most part). Yet I sometimes wonder what would happen if the same creativity and effort could be applied to kingdom matters; to AIDS, poverty and unemployment.
So I sometimes envision locking these fine folks in a room so that they can unleash the energy they expend for their bosses for the Boss that really matters. Eugene Peterson translates the same verse quoted above like this,
Streetwise people are smarter in this regard than law-abiding citizens. They are on constant alert, looking for angles, surviving by their wits. I want you to be smart in the same way—but for what is right—using every adversity to stimulate you to creative survival, to concentrate your attention on the bare essentials, so you’ll live, really live, and not complacently just get by on good behavior.”
What would happen in my city and cities worldwide if people bring the same intensity of their work into the work of the kingdom?