Paul says, “For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone will not work, neither let him eat” (2 Thess. 3:10). Don’t feed a person who refuses to work. Lest any presume that I intend to bash government welfare with this thought, let me assure them that I reserve other Scripture texts and principles for that purpose, but here only intend to highlight the topic of “work” as the forgotten topic among many Christians. Why have I never heard a sermon on this topic, and why do so many Christians treat the subject as “secular” instead of as designed and ruled by God as anything else? Answers, of course, lie in the Gnostic, anti-earth mindset prevalent among the “heavenly-minded,” but I will leave these answers to another time. For now, I would like to reach into the past and bring to your attention a sermon once well-known throughout the English-speaking world – a sermon dedicated to the topic, “Against Idleness.”
I believe that a preacher of the Gospel should know something about everything. Not be a know-it-all, but know something about it all. He should ably extract knowledge from every area and facet of life and use it in his message in an organic and fluid manner. If he cannot, he can only prove himself drone and drudger: competent to do busy work but not to teach.
Are these strong words? Yes. But not my opinion only. George Herbert, in his terse and powerful classic The Country Parson, writes of the parson’s knowledge (Chapter IV):
A popular minister whose sermons are broadcast on radio and television claims the Bible teaches that God has allowed Satan to be in control of this world until Jesus returns. He gave specific passages like Satan being labeled the “prince of this world” (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11) and argued that when Satan tempted Jesus in the desert and offered him the kingdoms of this world, Jesus didn’t argue or say anything about the world being Satan’s. Christians will use all types of excuses to keep themselves out of today’s religious-moral-cultural battles. One of the most diabolical excuses is to claim that Satan is the rightful god of this world.
An education is one of the few things that we can give ourselves and our children that will have lifelong effects. Although most American families send their children – as they themselves were sent by their own parents – to public schools, how often have we stopped to question the goals of the public education system? Christian parents especially should be asking this question if they are truly concerned whether their goals for educating their children are similar to the public schools’.
A central command of Christian scholarship is the Ninth Commandment: You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor (Ex. 20:14). Scholarship and writing is an ethical endeavor, not just merely intellectual. As writers, teachers, and students, we constantly witness in God’s Courtroom, deny His Providence when we falsify reality, and we erect an idol when we create falsehoods. Looking at much of the Christian scholarly world, not to mention the educational world in general, we have much to be ashamed of.