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.

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