A Christian Perspective on Work

A Christian Perspective on Work June 4, 2012

Which statement about work best expresses your heart?

“I LOVE my work.” This is the person whose job producesdeep satisfaction with life overall.

“Work is my LIFE.” These are the people whose identityis completely wrapped up in their job.

“I HATE my work.” For a variety of reasons, work tothese people feels like violence to the soul.

“I AVOID work.”  The secret sentiment of someonein love with leisure.

“I WISH I could work.” The heartcry of the disabled,unemployed, or underemployed.

Each sentiment reflects different attitudes and createspotential problems. But is there a distinctly Christian attitude toward work?There is. And like the Christian attitude toward leisure, which I describedover the last several weeks, it begins in Genesis.

The first time we encounter God in the pages of theBible, what do we find Him doing? Working. He is creating the world, fashioninga paradisiacal garden, and installing Adam and Eve to oversee the new world.Two simple but foundational principles emerge.

First, God’s work sanctions and lends dignity to ourown work in the world. During the Medieval Period, the church taught that toengage with God and serve Him best, one had to engage in acts of spiritualcontemplation and devotion. God’s work in creation argues to the contrary.During that first week of history, God spoke, carved, painted, gardened, setpolicy, cast vision, evaluated progress, and more. He wasn’t meditating orgoing to church. At one point, He even put His hands right in the dirt. Nowork, including church work, should be regarded as somehow more “spiritual” ormore pleasing to God than any other.

Second, work is part of the creation ordinance, notpart of the Fall. It has a natural law quality about it, like gravity. Thatpeople should work is one of creation’s “givens.” Not to work is abnormal andunnatural. Idleness is not the goal of human existence! Or, to put it anotherway, paradise  cannot be biblicallydefined as “sitting around doing nothing.” Work is part of God’s originalpurpose.

There’s more to say about the Christian view of work,but we mustn’t say less. These points are foundational. God is a Worker. Paradise included work. All legitimate work is honoringto God. Next week, we’ll consider how the Fall cursed work and how the crossrestores it.