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Christian Union
December 31, 2015

NYCU Hosts Lecture by Anthony Bradley

by Catherine Elvy, Staff Writer

anthony-bradleyLaboring in the marketplace is part of a divine calling.

That was the message from scholar and theologian Anthony Bradley when he spoke to a crowd of professionals at a New York City Christian Union Forum this summer in Midtown Manhattan.

Bradley, associate professor of religious studies at The King's College in New York, told 50-plus attendees, including many young professionals with ties to leading universities, to consider their vocations as spiritual commissions during a lecture entitled The Marketplace and Social Shalom.

"The marketplace is the place of spreading peace and human flourishing in civil society," said Bradley. "God takes delight in seeing human persons flourish, in seeing the entire creation flourish."

Essentially, God desires for the commercial arena to function as a vehicle to deliver shalom, or a robust manifestation of peace, wholeness, delight, and prosperity, to mankind.

"Businesses provide people opportunities to work, and work is a sacred activity," he said.

Bradley, director of The Center for the Study of Human Flourishing at King's, has published a series of books, including Liberating Black Theology; Aliens in the Promised Land; and Black and Tired.

Through his scholarship, Bradley readily proclaims that "God gave a duty for man to cultivate the earth. Work is actually good."

"It's a norm of creation. It's embedded into nature. It's so much a part of nature that God instructs people to look at the ants (Prov. 6:6)."

anthony-bradley-speakingMore poignantly, "Jesus was first known by His earthly vocation. Jesus teaches that we should appreciate vocation."

Bradley noted the link between work and creativity, and pointed out how all ages gain satisfaction from dreaming and building. Children enjoy being imaginative while playing, especially with construction sets such as Legos and blocks, he said. "Children unlock their potential to be creators. They're happy because they're creating."

Not surprisingly, people thrive when they are actively engaged in vocational and personal endeavors. Furthermore, the commercial arena involves social interaction, which reflects God's integral design for people to be interconnected via families and communities.

Along those lines, vocational labors are key to maintaining a family's well-being. "Work is central to the flourishing of family life," Bradley said. "Work protects us from poverty."

Not surprisingly, unemployment and underemployment correlate with elevated suicide rates, he added.

At a micro level, commercial endeavors create opportunities for individuals to serve one another. "Charity and generosity come out of our capacity to work," Bradley said.

On a macro plane, the marketplace helps quell injustice by providing economic opportunities. "The only long-term solution to poverty is sustainable jobs. That is facilitated by job creation and development..."

Along related lines, the marketplace also is where science, technology, and other sectors converge to benefit mankind by elevating culture.

"The marketplace is the place of spreading peace and civil flourishing in human society," Bradley said.

As young adults enter the workforce, they should consider themselves to be God's special agents. In fact, believers should cherish their vocational roles for opportunities to contribute to societal good.

"Christians are the kind of people who should wake up and say, 'Thank God, it's Monday,'" Bradley said. "They should make someone else's life better."
Ultimately, God delights in watching His creation flourish.

"This is something that pleases God dearly," he said. "God has a passion for people to do what they're called to do...This is a derivative of being made in the image of a God who worked for six days."

Likewise, business owners can view their entrepreneurship as a divine mission. "As your business grows, you are providing opportunity."

Before concluding his appearance, Bradley told participants, "God is going to use people like you to make the world a better place."
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