If you add up our work time—hours at work, time tidying up the house, the seemingly endless lawn work, the extended homework sessions, the evenings spent answering work emails—the result for many of us is that the majority of life is spent working. And in work, we often sense that there has to be meaning in it somewhere. As atheist philosopher John Gray has written, “Other animals are born, seek mates, forage for food and die. That is all. But we humans—we think—are different.” We typically live like our work matters . . . though sometimes we wonder if it really does.
Made to Work
The Christian story makes sense of these (sometimes competing) intuitions. In part 1 of our series “Your Work Matters,” we will see that in the very beginning, God created human beings to enjoy and work in a good physical world. While creation was good from the very start, it was incomplete. This is where humans enter into the story. We are called to live in relationship with our Creator by obeying his creation commission—caring and cultivating as his stewards. As image bearers, our work matters.
The Frustration and Joy of Work
However, as the second sermon will explain, something went terribly wrong. The root of the human predicament is that we have sought to have ultimate dominion and to subvert God’s authority. As a result, we now feel the despair of toil. Death and disorder can cast a meaningless dark shadow over our lives. And yet, the God-given calling to joyfully discover, cultivate, and develop every square inch of creation remains. We are to shine light into darkness as new creations who were made to create.
The Good News for Our Work
The Gospel is the message of “good news” for how God has reconciled us to himself. And, as we will see in part III of the series, this is profoundly “good news” about work. While being transformed by the gospel, Christians are called to do what his image bearers were called to do at the very beginning: work. We are to carry out God’s cultural commission, seeking to discover latent potentialities and to reorder a disordered world while proclaiming the Glory of God. As new creations in human form, our work is a way that we “love God and love others,” offering a foretaste of God’s coming New Creation. And perhaps surprisingly, it is only by working toward this aim that we can also discover how truly rest.
Dr. Josh Chatraw
Director of New City Fellows and Theologian in Residence