Justin Taylor does us a service by the unusual way he approaches the question, “is there a distinctively Christian way to be a bus driver?” Instead of a yes or a no, Justin breaks this question down into a number of component questions:
- Does the Bible teach how to be a bus driver?
- Does the Bible teach how to be a Christian bus driver?
- Is being a non-Christian bus driver inherently sinful?
- Can a non-Christian be a good bus driver?
- Is a Christian necessarily a better bus drive than a non-Christian?
- Is there a distinctively Christian way to think about the particulars of each vocation?
He then gives his answer to each question; some of them are “yes,” some of them are “no” and some of them are more complicated than that!
Justin asks whether a Christian is necessarily a better bus driver than a non-Christian and answers with a flat “no” – for a variety of reasons, we are not entitled to expect that any given Christian bus driver will be a better bus driver than any given non-Christian bus driver. On the other hand, Justin answers “yes” to the question of whether there is a distinctively Christian way to think about bus driving – the gospel and biblical revelation open up a whole new spiritual world to us, including in our vocations. He points to an emerging field of reflection on how distinctively Christian knowledge can reshape our understanding of fields like philosophy, art and social science, and suggests that the same could be done for less academic professions.
I would hasten to add, however, that it is not enough simply to “think about” our vocations in a distinctively Christian way. The work of the Spirit in our lives empowers us to drive busses and carry out all our other vocations in ways that are shaped by our gospel knowledge, and we are responsible to carry that spiritual power into action. As I wrote in an earlier post:
[The Christian factory worker] should radiate the gospel in both objective and subjective ways. Objectively, he should not only be a highly virtuous worker, he should go above and beyond the predominant ethical expectations that prevail on his factory floor. Perhaps he will take on more tasks or be a peacemaker when coworkers are in conflict. He may need to constructively challenge unethical practices. Subjectively, his bearing, spirit and demeanor should radiate the gospel. His company should taste different to those around him.
This doesn’t mean Christian bus drivers disregard their road maps and instead take a quiet moment of prayer and reflection to determine which way God wants them to steer the bus. It does mean that Christian bus drivers do their work with a different spirit (or rather, “Spirit”), and as a result their performance should change in objective and subjective ways that do, in the most important and relevant sense, make them “better bus drivers.”
So now to my proposed question. Once we’ve said Christians are not necessarily better bus drivers, but there is a distinctively Christian way to understand bus driving, we can then ask:
- Are Christian bus drivers specially empowered for their work by the Spirit, such that they ought to become better bus drivers than non-Christians, who are not thus empowered?
Three guesses how I’d answer.