“The whole purpose for which we exist is to be thus taken into the life of God. Wrong ideas about what that life is will make it harder” CS Lewis
Are we to be taken into the (three-personal being –C.S Lewis) life of God, or should we embrace the western world example of familial life? Is the community, birthed by blood into the life of Christ, the form of society we should pursue, or is it modern western religious forms that may or may not reflect the Divine image? And how can we know the difference?
I don’t propose to answer these questions here, they were written as thought provocation for me and my household. What I do propose is that at the least family engaging in entrepreneurial enterprise is a reflection to some extent of the divine character of God.
In what follows I hope to offer 1) a glimpse of The Trinitarian life of God in active entrepreneurial purpose; 2) to offer a thought concerning how functional subordination within the equality and oneness of the Godhead is the fullest expression of love; 3) that there is an ‘anti-work’ that is opposed to and seeks to corrupt every aspect of the Divine image; and finally 4) some thoughts and questions to consider.
So here goes:
Romans 12:2(ESV) Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
How do porcupines make love? Very carefully!
The point: it is ‘naturally’ safer to live separate lives and engage in occasional events and activities together – religious and secular – than to pursue entrepreneurial action creatively as a reflection of the divine image supported by the society of Christ.
The Three-Personal Being
As CS Lewis explains it, the Christian God is revealed by Jesus Christ to be a “three-personal being”. The experience of being drawn into this life is evident through prayer.
“[When a Christian kneels to pray] He is trying to get into touch with God. But if he is Christian he knows that what is prompting him to pray is also God: God, so to speak, inside him. But he also knows all his real knowledge of God comes through Christ, the man who was God – that Christ is standing beside him, helping him pray, praying for him… God is the thing to which he is praying – the goal he is trying to reach. God is also the thing inside him which is pushing him on – the motive power. God is also the road or bridge along which he is being pushed to that goal. So that the whole threefold life of the three-personal being is actually going on in that [man]”
CS LEWIS; Mere Christianity
Trinitarian life is purposeful in shared being! We are not ‘three-personal being’ but we exist to live in it together. To try to understand God’s three-personal being is not to say ‘this is God’ but to help reveal that image in people from the creation. To say ‘this is something like how we should be like him in a particular facet of existence’.
Here is my attempt to speak of the ‘purposefulness or entrepreneurial’ nature of the three-personal being, not to define God but to help us see the origins of entrepreneurial endeavours is an expression of the divine nature and to encourage an expression of entrepreneurial purpose in His divine community.
God – the Three-personal being – embarked on and engaged in a most incredible venture, a business venture if you will. In the unbreakable covenant of love God ‘entrepreneurially’ creates and establishes a start-up – “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth and everything in it” (Gen 1).
Creation, if you will forgive me expressing it this way, is the divine family’s business. That business is expected to bring a return to its owners; there are ‘employees’ who are expected to work for its success; and there are those who are offered partnership in that business despite having no claim to it, offered it by grace, adopted into the family, now participants in the family’s business and heirs to an inheritance.
This business is not a ‘set and forget’ investment, but rather a family endeavour in which each member of the Trinity participates to bring its ultimate purpose to fruition.
This Trinitarian endeavour shows us how equality and functional subordination works. It’s not a democratic structure; it is not a board run venture; it is not a dictatorial rule; it is the unity of loving equalityexpressed in functional subordination:
Genesis 1:1(ESV) In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
God(Father) Said(Christ the Word) let there be light(Spirit action).
In the creation event the Father could be likened to the Managing Director setting out the vision or purpose, Christ The Word is the creative agent who ‘fleshes out’ the plan and The Spirit as the active agent oversees its accomplishment.
This also seems evident in the mission of Christ in redemption – to take back the initiative and control over the family business. (I want to restate that I am not trying to redefine creation and salvation but to apply them to entrepreneurial activity in the Kingdom.) Jesus makes it clear that he has willingly subordinated his will to the Father’s will (Mat 26:39; Heb 10:7).
This is expressed clearly in Philippians when it says that though equal with God Jesus willingly subordinates himself to the Father for divine love (Phil 2:6). In a similar way the Spirit willing lives among God’s people in subordination to the Father and the Son’s directive (Jn 14:26; 15:26).
This is the salvation message, For God, the three-personal being, so loved the world that the Father sends the Son, the Son willingly subordinates himself and comes for the sake of the Father’s love.
So, is a subordinate son of the father not an equal? Is He still God? The key factor is not equality as we understand it nor is it subordination, but LOVE! The three-personal being lives in the equality of subordinate love.
1 John 4:16(ESV) So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
Out of this divine subordinate love comes all of creation. The love that God is, yearns to create, and it creates a creature to participate in that love. (Jn 3:16: 17:3)
“Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”
Philippians 2:13(ESV) for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
Did all go to plan in this Trinitarian venture?
God’s heavenly beings or angels exist to minister (Heb 1:7,14) out of His love, but we exist to be taken into that love: (so CS Lewis per 1Jn 4:16). One ‘superior’ angel Lucifer found the subordinate love of a three-personal being to be inferior, a weakness and so refused to exist in the shadow of that love. It was to Satan folly and such inferior folly was crying for a superior to ascend on high and bring the order of superiority: (cf Rom 1:21-25)
12 “How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low!
13 You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of GodI will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north;
14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’
15 But you are brought down to Sheol, to the far reaches of the pit.
Though being cast down, Satan, for a time senses this as freedom from the shadow of subordinate love – not realising that it is that very love that allows his existence for a time – and seeks to ‘release’ creation from that love.
Genesis 3:4–5(ESV) But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
Satan, having begun his own work – not a creative or entrepreneurial work but an ‘anti-work’ – is on a mission to destroy creative energy and purpose.
Having identified Satan’s work of death in humanity, we should realise that the same serpent uses the same methods to corrupt and destroy the ongoing business of God – creation and in particular people in it.
Galatians 4:4–5(ESV) But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
At just the right time God engages in the most profound entrepreneurial act – to create a ‘new man’ (Eph 2:15; Col 3:10). This creative act is to unite God and man together. Satan’s anti-work is to divide, separate and destroy.
Once we move from the garden temptation we can move to the temptation of Jesus, the first born who is to be the second Adam. There we do not see something different concerning Satan’s anti-work but the same kind.
After Jesus is baptised in obedience to the Father he is ‘driven’ into the wilderness by the Sprit. He is compelled to fast for 40 days – in obedience.
After his time of fasting Satan appears to tempt him in just the same way Adam was (Heb 2:18; 4:15).
Satan’s tempting of Jesus is in the same spirit as that faced by Adam. In essence he said, “you are God, you don’t need to be hungry, you should turn these stones into bread. Why obey your Father’s mean directive to starve yourself? He only wants what is bad for you but you don’t have to suffer. You have the power to act to be non-suffering despite your Father wanting you to suffer”.
John 10:10(ESV) The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
The renewed mind is required to understand more about the three-personal being, about the destroyer who seeks to steal and to kill, and to embrace, not a fallen worldview of life, work, rest etc, but a divine renewed understanding.
Whereas this article proposes that entrepreneurial endeavours are an expression of the image of God in man and a part of the abundant life found in Christ, the anti-work of Satan has turned such into a ‘secular’ activity, irreligious except when there is money to be had by various groups. My argument is that business and work is as sacred in God’s creation as a Sunday worship service. God established this from the beginning:
Genesis 2:2–3(ESV) And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. 3 So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.
A conclusion: Satan’s work is to distort and to destroy the image of God in every person and in all human endeavours (Jn 10:10).
- Adoration of God is replaced by adoration of sports people, celebrities, science, human endeavour and even creation itself (Rm 1:21-23);
- Existential living as worship has become lustful pleasure-seeking within a world that encourages ambulatory centres of selfishness (1Jn 2:16);
- Business and creative enterprise has been reduced to enslavement of others, self-glorification and death for profit (Jer 22:13; Jm 5:4-6);
- Religious service can become self-serving and pharisaic control of people’s access to God (Mat 23:13).
Human nature seems unable to genuinely live with diversity. Instead of accepting or celebrating diversity – perhaps due to a distorted expression of The divine Image crying from within for unity – each school of thought requires compliance, lobbying for legislation to enforce that view in a misguided attempt to create some utopian world order after their own image.
If this is accurate then Christians are compelled to express an ‘anti-image’. The spirit of Antichrist (1Jn 2:18) is actively creating an image that is NOT Trinitarian and so as Christians shouldn’t we pursue, to the best of our understanding and ability, Trinitarian life? And encourage even distorted forms of it? Or do we seek to enforce by persuasion our own perception of what Christian unity and life must be?
So, I hope in Christ for two things:
- A Christian ‘spirit’ that embraces Trinitarian expressions in their various forms, no matter that they are not conformed to our own imagination. And, if not rejecting outright then at least viewing with suspicion the modern patterns of this present world (present darkness?).
- A groundswell of households who will stand as Joshua did and say:
Joshua 24:15(ESV) And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
And that many families will discover as Cornelius did, that salvation comes, not simply or primarily to individuals, but to households (Acts 10; cf Act 16:15,31
Some questions: if, as Lewis says, the whole purpose for which we exist is to be taken into the life of God:
- Can we exist in relationship together in God’s subordinate love?
- Can we be formed into a community birthed in and by the subordinate love of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit?
- Can we engage in creative entrepreneurial endeavours as children of the Father?
Romans 12:1–2(ESV) I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
- According to Romans 12:1-2 spiritual worship is found in existential living.
- According to the Adamic mandate, received on the sixth day of creation (Gen 1:27-31) the purpose for people who exist in the life of God includes working in His creation according to his image in us.