A few weeks ago I read John Stott: a portrait by his friends. I was particularly encouraged to read this quote, from David Turner, a member at All Souls and a friend of John Stott’s since 1972.
I recall early in my legal career going to see [John Stott] to discuss the possibility of leaving the bar, at which I was just beginning to practise, to explore possibilities of ordination. He was gracious but firm in discouraging me from that route. “We need Christian lawyers” he said. The seriousness with which he took so-called ‘secular’ work was wonderfully affirming. There was no message that such work would be ‘second best’, there was no arena in which God’s people were not needed, where they could not serve effectively.
I know he reflected a lot on the ‘salt and light’ metaphors of Matthew 5. He liked to stress the radical difference that Christlikeness demanded. To that distinctiveness, however, there needed to be added permeation of non-Christian society. Salt did no good if it stayed in the salt shaker. Finally, he was powerfully persuaded of the capacity of Christians to change society. Salt hinders bacterial decay. Light dispels darkness. This was not a call to create a perfect society – John knew that was an impossible brief – but it was a call to be incarnated in society, to be ‘in it but not of it’, to improve it. That teaching, which I heard and read in many different strands from John, has proved vocationally steadying for me in what is by now nearly thirty-five years as a barrister and judge.
For Arthur and me, this is why we want to be involved in student ministry. Sure, there are people whom it is appropriate to call out from their profession to do vocational ministry but we’re keen to see students converted to Christ and devoted to him precisely because we want them to stay in their professions. It’s a vision for God’s people transforming God’s world that we’re keen to be a part of.
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.