Called to the Marketplace? by Bishop Dr Wayne Malcolm

Now, more than ever before, the Church must decide if its main job is to alleviate the symptoms of systemic evil, or if it is to lay the axe at the root of the tree in an attempt to eliminate its causes. The root of the tree is often a political and economic system that serves the interests of a few at the expense of the many.

This was the case with transatlantic slavery, which only ended when the political will to abolish it prevailed over the economic and immoral justifications for its existence. That political will was created by abolitionists and journalists together with economists, who exposed the economic folly of continuing the practice. Likewise, civil rights for African Americans was won through a combination of prayer and social action by those who knew that changing the legal and economic framework was the only hope of freedom for an oppressed minority. In fact, any significant social change typically required the presence of good people working within the political, economic and educational arenas, taking action to make that change. Of course they were covered with prayer, but no amount of praying would have been a substitute for their actions.

The Bible says ‘the love of money is the root of all evil’. I don’t believe this is a reference to personal evil as much as it is a diagnosis of social evil. It implies that a set of economic incentives typically underlies systemic and structural forms of evil in society. This was certainly the case for slavery and segregation. It is likewise the story

behind organised crime, political and corporate corruption, civil and regional wars, global poverty, inequality and injustice of all sorts. Ultimately someone is profiting from the status quo, and seeks to maintain it at all costs.

God’s plan for dismantling systemic evil always starts with the strategic positioning of a believer inside the system. This was true of many of our faith heroes, including Joseph, Moses, Esther, Nehemiah and Daniel, who each worked for non-believers in high offices of government. From their strategic positions they were able to intervene in a crisis (as did Joseph) or intercept a conspiracy (as did Esther).

The principle holds true today that believers can do much more for society from within the system than from the outside. Perhaps this explains the current wave of the Holy Spirit calling everyday believers to serve God through their careers, professions and vocations in the marketplace as agents of change.

The ‘call to the marketplace’ represents a world view in which the arena of commerce and trade is at the root of global grief and suffering. It emphasises the fact that the Marketplace is the last stronghold for the Church, and that a new breed of believers has been called to reclaim and redeem this space as part of a divine intervention to change the course of nations.

Systemic change is always an inside job, and never the result of pressure from the outside.

It requires the presence of skillful and enlightened individuals working from the inside to affect change. The good news is that the workplace gives millions of believers access to strategic positions in the marketplace, ie. through our collective careers, we are fully present within the mechanisms that matter, and are now waking up to the purpose of our positions.

The Bible gives us working models and examples of how to transform a society. In every case, a believer is miraculously promoted and strategically positioned within the system as a professional providing a seemingly unrelated service. That believer then becomes God’s special agent, advancing His interests from the inside. Each of the afore-mentioned faith heroes worked for non-believers in high offices of government and, at the appointed time, they made unreasonable requests, which were not denied. They successfully changed laws, cultures, kingdoms and national outcomes from their strategic positions in the marketplace.

Our conviction is that God is raising up a new breed of believers with uncommon aspirations (big career goals) to key positions of influence and as key players within the arenas of social authority. They constitute a Joseph generation, an Esther company, a Nehemiah movement or a Daniel tribe.

Perhaps you are one of those who have been called to the marketplace?

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