How does the Christian doctrine of the Trinity intersect with the reality of our day-to-day work? This doctrine has been a foundational conviction of Christian orthodoxy throughout church history. The eternally-existent, loving community of the Triune God is the wellspring from which Christians embody the abundant life of God in the world. But what does the Triune nature of God have to do with the mundane labor that claims most of our time?
In this funny and fertile talk from Karam Forum 2019, Fred Sanders of Biola University explores vocational implications of the Triune nature of the God of the gospel. Far from an abstract doctrine that amounts to no more than counting to three, the doctrine of the Trinity is about sending. In the Trinitarian community, the Father has sent the Son, the Son is sending his people by the Holy Spirit, and his people are invited to rest in the peace of being sent. This imbues our daily work with a missional purpose, for it is work to which we have been sent by God.
The Economic Wisdom Project connects faculty and students with foremost thought leadership on the challenges and opportunities for Christians engaging the workplace, public square, and global economy. As in this presentation from Fred Sanders, the EWP talks integrate timeless Christian theology with the timely questions of our day. We encourage you to assign one of these talks to your students!
Sanders frames his talk with the provocative claim that “there is something Trinitarian about all of your work in the world.” But what is this Trinitarian implication for our work? Is it some concept outside our work which we must claim intellectually and attempt to bring to the dailyness of our work? According to Sanders, it is instead something implicit in our very work, a reality into which we can live and rest.
He gently critiques Christians’ propensity to reduce the Trinity to concepts of three-ness. Imagery or frameworks that focus on the number three “treat the Trinity as something over there, off in the distance.” Instead, the doctrine of the Trinity is about stepping into the dynamic of the divine life, “pointing to the mode of our participation in the work of the Triune God.”
Just as the Father has sent the Son into the world, the Son sends us out into the world in the power of the Holy Spirit. Thus, as we walk with faithfulness in our vocations, we do so with the assurance that the Triune God as sent us to that very work.
Sanders highlights the difference between simply showing up to work and entering into work as someone who is sent. As he states, simply but compellingly, “everyone is somewhere. But some people remember: they were sent.” The former are characterized by passivity, purposelessness and a lack of direction. The latter have the security of identity, the motivation of mission, and the peace that their labor is in step with the will and working of God.
Embracing this reality and living into it through our vocations, Christians are given grace to do their work every day in fellowship of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Consider exploring this and the rest of our Economic Wisdom Project talks on our online library. The EWP talks are conveniently categorized by topic to ensure you find the ideal topic to assign your classroom!
EWP Talks on Theology