Friday, February 28, 2014

Some Reflections on Books


I took a vacation day from work to finish some assignments for my classes. I decided to utilize Liberty’s new library. On the second floor, there is a reading room. I walked in and immediately noticed a blissful, scholarly-looking spot in the corner. The ivory shades were closed and the sun was beaming through upon a brown leather chair, though it was initially green in my mind. I sat down and angled myself so that the sun would shine from behind me, but not directly.

I had a piece of pie that I was determined to finish for second breakfast before I embarked. As I ate my pie, I perused the books in the “reading room.” As I did, I felt again like I did as a child, when I would go to the toy store. There was so much to be explored. I immediately noticed reference books on German and thought about my desires to learn German within the next couple of years. My eyes scrolled down upon Dostoevsky, who I have read some and gleaned from, and Tolstoy, who I have not read, but hope to. I noticed Hebrew references, and thought about this summer, and how I hope to study Hebrew each day, in order to, Lord willing, prepare myself for graduate work. I tried to recall in my mind what I knew about Hebrew so far, which consisted of trying to recite the alphabet, but only getting to daleth before I turned the corner. I saw Lewis and Tolkien, had a vague impression of what I knew about reading their works and longed to read more. My eyes glazed the great writers whose books I have not cracked open, but who, from testimony, I knew had richness of wisdom to share: Bunyan, Shakespeare, Milton, Dickens. I saw Jane Austen and recalled the joy and richness that her works have brought Amanda, longing to understand what Amanda does about her works.

What I encountered in my short perusal was a combination of some things discovered, but much more undiscovered. The limited exposure that I have had to the knowledge on these shelves sent my heart longing to know more. I became, as I always do in libraries, increasingly aware of my own limitations. I realized that I will die before I come close to reading a small percentage of these works. Yet, it sent my heart longing for the God who, in wisdom and knowledge, spoke the world into existence. The God whose own thoughts make these books seem more simple than an infants babble. The God who is the ultimate goal of the knowledge in these books. I had peace that the God who thought all of these thoughts long before these authors did (and much more perfectly), who set the sun in motion that is shining through these shades, is the God with whom I hope to spend an eternity, forever gleaning knowledge and beauty of his Being

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Still in Exodus: Acknowledging Suffering with Hope


Many Christians don’t handle suffering well because they are not ready for it. They don’t know how to think about pain, hardships, and disappointment. This is partly because we live in a culture, including our Christian culture, that likes to make things appear better than they are instead of seeing things as they are and learning the truth about them. As an athlete learns better offensive tactics by anticipating defense, Christians are better able to deal with suffering when they anticipate it.

The Reality:

We know the axiom, “those who don’t learn history or doomed to repeat it.” This is true of redemptive history as well. That is part of the value of biblical narrative, especially since the God of the Bible never changes, nor do his plans.

Our current state as Christians is one of suffering and longing for redemption. In order to illustrate this, the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, constantly look back to the Exodus of Israel from Egypt, and their wanderings in the wilderness.

An example is Paul, in 1 Corinthians 10, who warns Christians not to grumble and turn from God as Israel did in the wilderness. Likewise, Hebrews chapters 3 and 4 speak of how the Israelites desired rest in the wilderness, but failed to attain it. The author reminds us that rest is promised us, but that we should “fear lest any…should seem to have failed to reach it.”

The Hope:

If we are in a spiritual wilderness, why should we be happy? Paul speaks beautifully to this.

In Romans 8:18, he says, “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing to the glory that is to be revealed to us.”

In Ephesians 1:17-19, Paul prays that God would give the believers in Ephesus a spirit of wisdom and revelation, having the eyes of their hearts enlightened, that they may know what is the hope to which he has called them.

Our Wilderness Experience:

This hope is not a fairy tail wish. If you are a Christian, it believes that you mean these things to be literally true.

Expect suffering now. Don’t be surprised by it, but despise it with hope. Let it set your heart longing for the redemption prepared for us in Christ (Rom. 8:24-25) and ask for the Holy Spirit’s help in seeing it in perspective (Eph. 1:17-23).

We await a spiritual Jerusalem (Gal. 4), a heavenly Mt. Zion (Heb. 12:22).

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Plato, Nygren, and God's Love for Humans

Kevin Vanhoozer edits a booked titled Nothing Greater, Nothing Better. It is a series of articles covering contemporary issues on the love of God. I was particularly struck by a chapter in the book by Gary Badcock, titled “The Concept of Love: Divine and Human.”

Badcock discusses to two attempts to make sense of God’s ability to love humans. The first is from Plato. Plato described love as “born of need” (Vanhoozer, 31). So, according to Plato’s view, one person loves another person because they need affection. One loves wisdom because they have some foolishness in them (31-32). So, the gods, to Plato, cannot love because they do not have needs. The other attempt at describing God’s love comes from Anders Nygren. Nygren, in reaction to Plato, describes God’s love as the agape love that is “spontaneous and uncaused,” “indifferent to human merit” (33). So, according to Nygren, God sees nothing loveable in humans, but loves them anyway because he is God.

Badcock tries to find a kind of middle ground between these two. I do find his answer striking, but unsatisfying. I will try to deal with two important statements in Badcock’s reconciliation.

First, in reaction to Nygren’s view of man’s depravity, that “he [God] is unable to see any good remaining with human nature after the fall” (35), Badcock argues that “he [Nygren] represents an unduly pessimistic view of human nature and an inadequate doctrine of sin” (35). In response he says, “It is the love of God for the person that is all-important, the divine love that recognizes the goodness or potential for goodness buried deep beneath the mound of perceived unloveliness” (36).

Without saying it, it seems that Badcock is using Nygren as a kind of caricature for what is typically the Reformed view of total depravity. Like the liberal media loves reporting stories of Westburo Baptist church and other crazies, I come across a surprising amount of writers and speakers who tend to cite extreme versions of Calvinist doctrines and use it to knock down what most Calvinists actually say.  What I am saying is that Badcock’s choice of Nygren over a more classic approach, like Augustine, is suspect.  He seems to be setting up a kind of legal straw man. It’s above the belt, but it’s still a gut-check.

I agree with Badcock that the choice between Plato’s view and Nygren’s view is a false dilemma. I sit in the middle with him. He seems to sit a bit closer to Plato and I seem closer to Nygren. I am also arguing, however, that the rest of the Reformed community seems closer to me than to Nygren.

I haven’t read any Reformed theologians who would claim that there is not “any good remaining within human nature after the fall.” Reformed theology typically champions common grace and the imago Dei. There is certainly a great worth to human beings that God is jealous to restore. That remaining good, however, is not the motivation of God’s love. He needs no motivation. So, I think Reformed theology has a medium between these views that is not guilty of the same overstatements as Nygren.

The second statement from Badcock that struck me is that “God is affected by the world-or at the very least he chooses to be so-which is no more than to say that it matters to him, that he loves it” (46).

First, I want to point out some a presupposition to Badcock’s thinking. This statement is assuming that in order for love to exist, it must be affected by the one being loved. Not being affected implies “indifference” (46). It matters to me what Badcock means by “affected.” He isn’t, however, clear on this. If it merely means that God relates, responds, feels, and cares, I am not concerned. If he believes that God is “affected” in a way that implies humans do things that God didn’t expect and that have an impact on God’s experience as God, that is more concerning. He seems to step into this line of thinking when he says, “both positions err in not recognizing that the existence of the world adds something to God’s experience” (46).

While I think that Badcock raises some striking problems, I do not think we need to find answers to them in God’s being affected by humans in the way Badcock is describing. I think we need only look to the Trinity. In Jn. 10:17, Jesus states that the Father loves him. It seems reasonable to assume that Persons of the Trinity have loved each other from all eternity. From this, I would argue, that God’s intra-Trinitarian love for himself propels his love for humanity. His love for himself need not be affected by humans to be legitimate. He has had enough love pouring from his own being from all eternity that it does not seem to lesson his love to say that it is completely self-provoked. That is why I can hold to a Calvinistic view of human depravity are and have no problem seeing God’s love as actual love. Because, when the Father sees his church, he sees Christ.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

God's Kingdom vs. Our Perception of It


Have you ever been trying to serve God in someway and found yourself angry or disappointed because your plans failed? Or, to put it another way, have you ever been trying to serve God and God seemed to prevent you?

I’m sure we have all encountered that, because, I would argue, it is part of the necessary process of becoming who God wants us to be. Let me try to explain.

Many of us have probably encountered this pattern:

You have a plan to serve God.
Something thwarts that plan.
You feel frustrated and wonder why God didn’t honor what you were trying to do for him.

Has this happened to you? It does to me daily.

Let’s take a closer look at the situation.

Since the situation implies that we are not looking at ourselves objectively, all we can ever do is bring our current state before God. The red-flag that should make us stop and reflect in these situations are our unhealthy emotions, such as anger, anxiety, discouragement, ect. When you are experiencing unhealthy emotions, put yourself in alert mode, something is amiss in your heart.

Before I continue further, one thing should be established. God is sovereign. If we take the “all” in Romans 8:28 to actually mean “everything that happens” (I believe this is true), we have to believe that everything that happens is part of God’s sovereign will for our good.

That being said, what then is happening in these situations is that our will is confronting God’s providence. Even though we may have been trying to serve God, what we perceived to be God’s kingdom plan was confronted by God’s actual kingdom plan.

How to we know what God’s kingdom plan is? God’s will for us always involves meeting our actual circumstances in a way that follows God’s commandments. If we are having a difficult time doing that, we need to check our hearts and adjust our thinking.

For example, let’s say a pastor has plans to spend six hours of his Monday to preparing next Sunday’s sermon for his congregation. He is doing this to his knowledge to serve God by ministering to his congregation. Let’s then say that a situation has arisen with his children that demands his immediate attention, taking him away from his studies. He feels frustration. This was the only time he had all week to complete this. What may be happening is that God’s actual kingdom will is confronting what he thought God’s kingdom will is. God’s will for that day may be for him to minister to his children. Re-aligning himself will take giving up his idols of his will, repenting, and praying to align himself with God’s will.

A biblical example: Jesus was telling his disciples that he must “suffer many things from the elders and the chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised” (Mat. 16:21). Peter argued with Jesus and was rebuked with the famous line, “Get behind me Satan” (v.23). Peter had good intensions. He didn’t think this this should happen to his Messiah. This wasn’t in his perception of God’s will. God’s actual kingdom, however, was confronting Peter’s idea of the kingdom.

Serving God is a constant process of understanding and aligning ourselves with God’s actual will as it is manifests itself in our lives.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

"The Life of God in the Soul of Man" A Review

The great Awaking preacher, George Whitefield claims that this book was one of the primary means that God used to awaken him to faith. I can understand why.

Henry Scougal (1605-1678) originally meant The Life of God in the Soul of Man to be nothing more than a letter to a downtrodden friend, to encourage him in his faith. The recognition of its profundity eventually led to its publication.

The book primarily outlines what Scougal sees to be the three primary Christian virties: Love (both of God and man), purity, and humility. He expounds upon these virtues by 1) elaborating on their excellence by showing what they may look like if fully acquired, 2) showing how Christ perfectly exemplified them, and 3) giving practical advice as to how to cultivate them.

The book is short and all the better for it. Scougal wastes no words. Almost every sentence seems quotable. I hope to emulate this is my own discipline. This work is truly an inspiration toward a fruitful heart and mind, such that a casual letter to a friend could be so profound.

The elaboration of the excellence of the virtues is very encouraging. It is helpful for any Christian to think about why the ways of Christ are not just commanded, but actually most realistically beneficial. It is also refreshingly practical, in a puritanical kind of way, in its suggestions as to how the virtues can be cultivated. I often refer back to its advice as I try to acquire these virtues myself.

J. I. Packer points out on of the weakness of the book in his introduction. Being a product of its Christianized era, it assumes many of the gospel truths that a book written today would do well to expound upon. So, while the book did lead to Whitefield’s conversion, I would more likely recommend it to someone well familiar with the Christian faith than a new convert. Its dated and heavy language also recommend it to a more experienced reader. All of this being said, a new Christian would certainly be no worse off for reading it.

I highly recommend this book. It is one of the most influential devotional books for me so far. I have read it multiple times and have committed many of its principles to heart. What I have most gleaned from it is the realization of the priority of heart formation, from which everything else proceeds.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Love for Other Begins in the Heart

You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to council; and whoever says ‘you fool’ will be liable to the hell of fire. –Matthew 5:21-22 (ESV)

Jesus here is not saying anything essentially new. He is citing the Old Testament regulation on the sixth commandment. What Jesus is getting at is what the commandment has always been about: the condition of our heart that the commandment is to incite. One we learn here from Jesus is that in order to follow God’s commands, we must begin with our heart.

I find myself struggling daily to obey the two most essential commandments of Scripture, to love God and love others. One thing that I am learning is that these commandments begin with the conditioning of my heart and mind. Here are a few things that I have found help me condition my mind and heart to obey the commandment to love others:

Remember the gospel grace shown to me: In the parable of the unmerciful servant (Mat. 18:21-35), Jesus reminds us that, when he shows grace to us, he demands that we show it to others. Even more terrifying is his statement, “if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Mat. 6:15).

What I believe the point is of these two teachings is not a works-righteousness that negates our forgiveness if we fall short of repentance, but the reality that, if we do not show mercy to others, we have not understood the mercy shown to us. When I think of what I deserve and the grace God has given me, I am encouraged to be gracious and loving to others.

Meditate on the humanity of others: The 17th century writers, Henry Scougal, has influenced me on this,

We shall find our hearts enlarged in charity toward men by considering the relation wherein they stand unto God, and the impresses of his image which are stamped upon them. They are not only his creatures, the workmanship of his hands, but such of whom he taketh special care, and for whom he hath a very dear and tender regard, having laid the designs of their happiness before the foundations of the world, and being willing to live and converse with them to all the ages of eternity. The meanest and most contemptible person whom we behold is the offspring of heave, one of the children of the Most High; and however unworthy he might behave himself of that relation, so long as God hath not abdicated and disowned him by a final sentence, he will have us to embrace him with a sincere and cordial affection.

Pray for others: When you are praying that other with know Christ more, it is difficult to act in a way that is contrary to that purpose.

Train my speech: Something that I have become increasingly convicted about is training my speech to be edifying. Paul tells us to “let no corrupting talk come out of you mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” I have come to realize that, if I am truly going to love others, I must restrain my tongue from speaking ill of them (this is particularly difficult when I agree with someone “honest assessment” of another).

In regard, I recommend reading James 3:1-12 on the power and danger of the tongue. I probably need to memorize this.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

A Proper Motivation for Discipline and Asceticism

Many of us scorn the idea of discipline or asceticism (temporarily depriving ourselves of something that we desire). This is probably because we don’t see these things rightly. We often look at asceticism for asceticism’s sake (see Doug Wilson quote below). No wonder that isn’t appealing.

We must look at discipline and asceticism as depriving ourselves of something of small importance for the sake of something of great importance.

For an example, let’s look at Jesus’ confrontation with the Satan in the wilderness. There seem to be many reasons why Jesus went to the wilderness (to show himself as a greater Adam, resisting Satan; to show himself as a better Israel, not grumbling in the wilderness; to triumph over Satan to inaugurate his ministry, ect.), but I find his responses to Satan while there really interesting. When Satan offers Jesus bread, Jesus quotes to him Deuteronomy 8:3: “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Mat. 4:4).

On one hand, this was probably to contrast Jesus to the Israelites in the wilderness, in that he didn’t grumble for food like they did. For the purpose of this post, however, notice that Jesus did not just say, “I don’t need bread.” He was hungry and he felt the very legitimate desire for food. Rather, he was showing that he cherished every word from the Father more than food.

When we think about whether we should carry out a type of discipline of asceticism, we should only do so to attain something even better.

It is not holy in itself to fast. Jesus made quite a point of this at the “Sermon on the Mount” (Mat. 6:16-18). It is only good to fast if we are depriving ourselves of food because of a genuine realization that we want the better things in life more. In this light, fasting is logical.  It isn’t sufficient in itself to read the words in the Bible. We sit and read from the Bible, instead of being somewhere else, because we believe that we will ultimately glean more from what we discover than by doing other things at the moment. We don’t get magical tokens for praying, but it is blessed by God when we count talking to him and fellowshipping with him as more valuable than other things.

Notice too that this does not negate lesser things. True, the Word of God is more valuable and satisfying than food, but we cannot neglect food. We just shouldn’t treasure is too much. Spending an hour praying is probably more essentially valuable than getting my hair cut, but I cannot never cut my hair. Where I would err is wen I care more about by my image in the mirror than my time with my Father.

What matters is seeing things in their proportionate value. Sometimes, it takes discipline to force ourselves to re-align our values. But, we don’t do so for the superficial sake of the action, we do so because we (rightly selfishly) want the best thing for ourselves.

“Indeed, I count everything as loss compared to the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” –Paul, Philippians 3:8

“We don’t practice asceticism for asceticism’s sake. We practice asceticism for the sake of greater enjoyment.” –Doug Wilson

“God is most glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in him.” –John Piper

"So, if we wish to follow Christ-and to walk in the easy yoke with him-we will have to accept his overall way of life as our way of life totally. Then, and only then, we may reasonably expect to know by experience how easy is the yoke and how light the burden". -Dallas Willard

Friday, February 7, 2014

The Actuality of God's Love

              Certainly, one of the most important things that is lacking in our culture is the realization that love, especially between a husband and a wife, is a choice. There is another aspect of love, however, that I want elaborate upon a bit: the actualization of love.

By the actualization of love, I mean its becoming tangible. I’ll give an example. When a husband and wife marry, ideally they are entering into a future relationship that will be, from that point on, based on a commitment to love. The commitment is the foundation on which the love stands; however, it is somewhat of a blind commitment. It is ignorant of the future. The person does not actually know all of the ways in which their commitment to love their spouse will play out. As their marriage plays out, there love is actualized. Their future is being shaped and filtered through their commitment to love. Their love is becoming real and tangible as it plays out in actual situations.

This is also the case when we become children of God. Externally, we are baptized into a tangible covenant with the creator of the universe. Internally, we are regenerated through the Holy Spirit and united with Christ in ways more mysterious than we can understand. We imperfectly learn to love God by keeping his commandments as we travel through a passage of time that was once uncertain to us. Our love for God is being actualized.

God’s love does not need to be actualized. From all eternity, he has known himself perfectly. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have been in perfect unity with one another, without a thing to be lacking. The self-love of the Godhead does not need to be actualized. It has always been actual.

 Before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4-5, 11) God knew everything about us that could conceivably be known. The incarnate Christ even suffered as we do, so that he literally felt our pain. His love for us was as tangible before the world was made as it ever will be. God’s love for us does not need to be actualized. It has always been actual.

This should bring deep security to our foundation in the gospel. When Christ atoned for our sins on the cross, he did so with the most complete knowledge of that can be had. Nothing we do surprises him. And, if we are his, nothing can take us away from him. So, rest secure in this peace:


28And we know that for those who love God all things work together hfor good,8 for ithose who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he jforeknew he also kpredestined lto be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be mthe firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also njustified, and those whom he justified he also oglorified.

31 What then shall we say to these things? pIf God is for us, who can be9 against us? 32 qHe who did not spare his own Son but rgave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? sIt is God who justifies. 34 tWho is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—uwho is at the right hand of God, vwho indeed is interceding for us.10 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,

w“For your sake xwe are being killed all the day long;

we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than yconquerors through zhim who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Legalism: Clarifying Our Terms

We hear the word “legalism” a lot in Christian circles.

“I don’t want to be a legalist.” “Isn’t that legalistic?” “Jesus hates legalism.”

There are some things that seem common about its usage. It’s always negative. It’s always combative (it’s used to dismiss another person or party.) The person using it assumes that the other person knows what they mean.

I have noticed that different people mean different things by the term. So, I thought I would try to outline different uses of legalism that I have noticed. The first 4, I think, can be legitimate in proper perspective. The last 2 never are.

Legalism as seeking salvation by works: This was the primary concern of Luther in the Protestant Reformation and the thrust behind the reformational sola fide (“faith alone”) and sola gratia (“grace alone”). As Paul said in Romans 3, “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” No one will earn favor apart from the atoning work of Christ (Eph. 1:7; 2:14). This seems to be the emphasis of much of Paul’s writings in Romans and Galatians. I heard John Piper once say, “works are the fruit, not the root of salvation.” I think that is a good axiom to go by.

Legalism as sanctification by works: This kind of legalism is often more subconscious. A common symptom is the person who feels un-blessed for the day because they have not had their daily devotions. This tendency is a two-sided danger. On one hand, we can live in anti-gospel fear that feels we cannot be loved by God because we are not good enough. That is discrediting the work that Jesus did. On the other hand, we can feel o.k. because we are doing this or that good works. That is also anti-gospel, and it discredits God’s holiness.

Legalism as adding to the law: As Christians we are called to use the Bible to be morally discerning, but we should never call a law what is not a law. This is often used against fundamentalists who think that things like drinking alcohol, smoking tabacco, or watching R-rated movies are always sin. Fundamentalists are not the only people who are susceptible to this though. We need to all be careful to not cross this boundary. I find that many of us, even if we would not verbally add to the law, we sometimes do so instinctually when judging others.

Legalism as sticking to the letter of the law: This can be seen in biblical interpretation or with rules in general. I have this tendency. I’m a rules guy. If the rules say “do not,” it means “never.” There is a fine line here between integrity and a lack of common sense. Sometime, greater laws supersede lesser ones in certain circumstances. We saw Jesus make this point when he critiqued the Pharisees for giving to the poor, but not taking care of their parents, or when he accused them of making man for the Sabbath and not the Sabbath for man.

Legalism as equivalent to law: There are many today who place such an emphasis on grace that they reject law altogether. The theological word for this is antinomianism (coming from the Greek word for law, nomos). There are many statements from Paul that seem, on the surface, to imply this (e.g. Rom. 6:14). A more thorough reading of Paul, however, shows that it is not the law that is the problem, it is us (See Romans 7). The law is good. We are bad.

There are two common misunderstandings here:  

One is a failure to distinguish between laws that were distinctly for national Israel (cleanliness law, sacrificial laws, temple laws, ect.). These laws were abolished when Jesus fulfilled them. Other laws are moral, and are repeated as commandments in the Old Testament. A good example of this is the Ten Commandments (read Exodus 20).

Another is a failure to distinguish the different uses of the law. John Calvin pointed out that the law does three things: It convicts us of sin, sets moral standards for society, and commands us how to live.

Legalism as discipline in general: Some consider legalism as any attempt to do discipline ourselves for good works. Don’t let someone call you a legalist for disciplining yourself for righteousness. We must remember that Paul, in Romans 6, in the same passage that we are told that we are not under the law, but under grace, said that we are to present members as instruments for righteousness (Rom. 6:13).


The point here is that it’s never sufficient to dismiss another person’s thoughts or actions just by placing a term on them. We need to be careful about the language we use and discerning about how we interpret the language of others.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Work, Humanity, and Redemption

The first full-time job that I had was a Housekeeping job for Liberty University. Every day, four eight hours, I cleaned the 1st floor of Demosse Hall. The nature of the job gave me a lot of time to think. One question constantly came to mind: How do I glorify God in this job?

An obvious answer was that I can glorify God through my attitude and through providing for my wife and myself. But, what about the work itself? As I thought it, I realized that I spent most of my waking hours doing this job. I counted my time with Amanda and in my relationships as far more valuable than my time at work, but, frankly I still had to live with the reality that I spend far more time at work than doing the things I enjoyed naturally. It began to make me think about why God made work. Why do humans work and how should I treat it?

When trying to think about humanity, it is always a good place to start at the Garden of Eden, the first and ideal humanity. We see something striking in the description of this pre-fall existence: they worked.

And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” -Gen. 1:28

Even more striking, God, in whose image man was made, worked (Genesis 2:1-3). He rested, setting that standard of weekly rest in the fabric of creation (Ex. 20:8-11). Logically, if rest was holy from the beginning, so then was work.

Then, there was the fall. Let’s make clear that what we do not see work as a curse of the fall. We see that to work is added sweat, thorns, and thistles (Genesis 3:17-19). Most of us don’t work manual labor jobs today, but those “thorns and thistles” may come in the form of headaches, afternoon slumps, conflict with colleges, lay-offs, boredom, distractedness, ect.

So, work is good. Sin is not.

What’s the point?

The point is that many of us need to stop thinking of work as a necessary evil, but rather be frustrated with evil for corrupting work. To work is human. Christ came as the ideal human in order that he might restore us to the proper humanity. Therefore, work is not to be scorned, but to be redeemed.