Monday, July 20, 2009

God@Work - The Biblical Basis for Work

In July, my church is running a four part series on Sunday evenings called God@Work. These sessions are meant to equip men and women with a biblical perspective on work and vocation.

I thought it might be interesting to share highlights from each of the sessions. Session 1 (Theology of Work) covered a biblical understanding of work - God's work in creation, the effect of the Fall on work, God's work in redemption. We also discussed the purpose of work in our lives. Here are some of the notes from the session -

In Genesis 1-2, we see that creation reveals the "work" of God. God is a worker and in fact, introduces the concept of work. There are three kinds of work that God is engaged in -

Providential work - this is the work that God does in governing, sustaining and overseeing the world. God never rests from this work.

Redemptive work - this is the work that God accomplishes through His Son to redeem the world to Himself. Likewise, God does not rest from this work

Creative work - this is work that we equate to labor. This is the creative work that God accomplished in creating, bringing order and completing His creation. God rested from this work and delighted in the excellence of His creation.

Since God is the ultimate worker, the act of work itself is loaded with inherent meaning, significance and dignity.

Why do we work? First, we work because we're made in the image of God - we're image bearers. As God's image bearers we are to use our God-given creativity and responsibility to use the earth for godly purposes.

Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."

So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground."

Genesis 1:26-28

Second, God calls us to subdue and rule over the earth. This doesn't mean we can plunder and pillage the earth. Rather, just as Adam and Eve were commanded to "work" and "keep' the Garden of Eden, we're responsible to take care of what God has entrusted to us.

The Fall has distorted God's intention for work. Instead of being enjoyable and satisfying, the "garden" we labor in is now filled with thistles and thorns - work is now hard and marked with difficulties. The other effect of the Fall is that as workers, we lose perspective on who God is and His purpose for our lives. We no longer work to the glory of God.

Thankfully, that's not where it ends. Instead, God through the work of His Son is redeeming men and women to Himself. Those who trust in Jesus Christ are transformed from "the image of the man of dust [that is, Adam] into those who will bear "the image of the man of heaven [that is, Jesus]" 1 Corinthians 15:49. In the process, He is restoring the nature and purpose of work in the lives of those who belong to Him.


Sam Van Eman said...

Cool. We're doing a series on this topic in Sunday school later in the fall. I'll be looking for resources. Do you mind if I add these to the list?

Maalie said...

>These sessions are meant to equip men and women with a biblical perspective on work and vocation.

I should have thought the time would be better spent equipping them with a more up-to-date and relevant perspective suitable for the 21st century.

Every Square Inch said...

Sam - you're welcome to anything on this blog.

Maalie - I believe the biblical perspective is enduring in truth and relevant for all times and all peoples. For all it's worth, this is coming from someone who has 20 years of experience, inventor of 2 patents, author of 2 books and numerous articles in the high tech industry ...where things constantly change.

Every Square Inch said...

Maalie - I didn't mean my last remark to be either construed as putting you down or boasting about my own accomplishments. From your comments on other blogs, I know that you're a really smart guy - you'll probably run rings around me intellectually. But I know that the gospel is true - that mankind has rebelled against a holy Creator God - we have incurred judgment for our rebellion but that God in his mercy sent His own Son to die on our behalf, to bear our sins and to reconcile us to God.

My small accomplishments aside, this is the truth upon which my life is built. I am grateful for all God has done for me.

Jimmy said...

Maalie, i do pray that one day you may meet the one who made all the majesty that you have given you life's work to. i pray for you to have eyes to see God prior to your parting from this earth.
I am equally mystified(in the opposite way) at how you can immerse yourself in God's creation and not see Him. it is sad to me, for you could connect all your discoveries and paint this glorious picture of God.
May God be gracious and merciful to you as you continue your work.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Yes, work is an important part of our humanity, and it's more for our good than simply to survive, that's for sure. And goes on eternally for us in Christ, if I read Scripture correctly, but of course without the limitations here.