Conclusion to ActsBible Commentary / Produced by TOW Project
Investigating work and work-related issues in Acts presents a coherent treatment of vocation in God’s world. In Acts, a Christian view of work is not relegated simply to the realm of ethics. Rather, work is an active form of witness in God’s redemption of the world. The logic of Acts moves in this direction:
1. The coming of the Spirit initiates Christ’s kingdom—God’s new world—in a new way. The Roman patronage system that seeks status for the self is replaced with a spirit of love that seeks the good of others. This follows the example of Jesus who spends himself for the sake of others—evident above all in the cross.
2. The Christian vocation is conceptualized as Spirit-empowered witness to Christ’s kingdom, not only by proclamation but also by acting in accord with God’s spirit of love in everyday life.
3. The Christian vocation is given to the entire community of believers, not merely to individuals. The believers’ practice is not perfect—sometimes very far from perfect—but it is a real participation in the new world, nonetheless.
4. The community bears witness to Christ’s kingdom by working and using work-related resources—power, wealth, and status—for the sake of others and the community as a whole. Membership in the community goes hand in hand with a transformed way of life, leading to love and service. An exemplary result is the practice of radical generosity with every kind of resource.
5. When work is performed in this way, every profession can be an act of witness by practicing the structures of justice, righteousness, and beauty brought forth by God’s kingdom.
6. The Christian community thus produces a way of working that challenges the structures of the fallen world, and sometimes brings it into conflict with the world’s power holders. Nonetheless, the intent of the community is not to clash with the world but to transform it.
7. Leadership is a prominent arena in which the new spirit of love and service for others is enacted. Authority is shared and leadership is encouraged at every level of the community. Leaders accept the burden of acting for the good of others, and they respect the wisdom and authority of those they lead. Leadership attributes—including courage, suffering, respect, and concern for others—come to the fore in the example of the Apostle Paul.
Acts helps us to see that all of human life—including our work and the fruit that emerges from our work—can be a means of participating through the power of the Spirit already emerging in God’s kingdom coming to earth. In this way work is not only dignified but also essential to the human vocation of witness. As it was from the beginning, work is central to what it means to be fully human. Workers today are called to be cultivators and transformers of earth, culture, family, business, education, justice and every other sphere—all for the sake of God’s kingdom.