How can we connect faith with the life we live from Monday to Friday? David W. Jones tackled this question in a recent interview. In the interview, Jones talks about the material world, finding your calling, his new book Every Good Thing and more.
Follow this link to listen to the interview, or you can read highlights from the conversation below:
Why the Every series? (Every Square Inch, Every Waking Hour, Every Good Thing)
“A couple of years ago, we became aware that Christians are so good with the spiritual realm — praying, witnessing, and all these spiritual disciplines. But it seems that at least for a generation or so, we’ve neglected the material world and questions about my everyday life — my work ethic, my body, my finances, how we deal with poverty, how we interact with the material world. These questions have been left unasked and unanswered.”
“We wanted to develop a more holistic view of Christianity in trying to address everyday issues that people confront. We hatched this idea for these three books. They’re all a bit different. Probably my book is the broadest, maybe a 30,000-foot perspective, in this series. But each book tries to address topics that are important in the material world for Christians.”
What is the material world?
“It’s good, first of all, to think of ourselves. Of course we have a spirit, a soul. But our spirit and soul is just one or two parts of us. Actually our physical bodies, our material existence, is what we usually think about when we think about people. And so these two or three components — body, soul and spirit — they’re not separate components; they’re a composite unity. It’s not like the spirit is the ‘real me’ and the body is just a prosthesis that’s used by the ‘real me.’ [We’re] holistic beings. …
“The material world is everything that we see and everything that we do. So we wanted to get the mind away from viewing Christianity as an eternal life insurance policy. [We believe] that it actually has a cash value difference for the material world, the physical here and now, everything that we see, everything that we do. Christianity not just about an hour on Sunday, but a 24/7 kind of event. That’s more what we mean by material world: simply, everything that we see, do and touch, and all that we are.”
Has the church typically been anti-material world?
“Historically there’s been a suspicion about the material world. It goes back to the early church and the influence of a bad theology called Gnosticism which essentially said that the material is bad. There’s this suspicion of the body, suspicion of sexuality; we see that in Catholic theology. So there’s this automatic assumption that the spirit is good. [This distinction] goes way back.
“And from that time, in history over the past two thousand years, there has been an emphasis on one or the other. We’ve seen abuses all the way from ‘Hey, it’s all going burn up one day so it doesn’t matter’ to a complete focus on the material — [For example] missionaries building hospitals and teaching English, which are good things to do, but they never get around to the spiritual side….
“So you can certainly overemphasize either the spiritual or the material. What we’re aiming for with this book series is a balance between those two realms.”
Does God care what I do for a living?
“Yes, but the idea that he has something in particular that you have to find and do or you’re ‘up the creek without a paddle’ is not a notion we want to endorse. Essentially, God has given us all abilities, he’s given us all talents, he’s given us interests, he’s given us opportunities. We look at that grand package, along with our preparation, our education [and] whatever is before us.
“What is the best vocation I can do given all these variables? Whatever that is, that’s what we’re supposed to do at a given moment. When I was going through college, I drove a back-hoe for a living. Now I’m a professor. I couldn’t do one then and another now. Both were right given the context.”