Was I exaggerating in my last post?
No, but to leave the world of work without reflection would be unfair at best and dishonest at worst. So, even as you struggle to retain the poetic insight of your soul after a long day of manipulating pivot tables, I offer the following considerations for why we work.
We work because we must. Not merely in the, “pay the bills,” sense, mind you, but in the, “God hath ordained,” sense. From the beginning of time, it was God’s design that one aspect of his glorification should be the curse of work. When Adam sinned, God made clear that produce would come only through toil, until the Day of eternal rest. Want the necessaries? Be glad for your work.
We work because it strengthens. Character builds the same way muscle does: through constant, repetitive overcoming of resistance. If we desire to work for the kingdom of God, the kingdom of the cubicle is an important training ground. Be entirely honest: would you be so patient with that church small-group member if you had not had to stick it out with your coworkers? Could you handle the territorial deacon if you had not learned to love your insecure dictator of a boss?
We work because it presents opportunities. Much of my world is a bubble. My friends have similar beliefs, my church has similar beliefs, my school has similar beliefs, and much of my family has similar beliefs. How then can I participate in the duty of the church to be a light to the world if I never come into contact with the world? Work offers us constant opportunities to run up against very different worldviews, and gives every opportunity to communicate the hope that drives us.
We work because we love. The money we earn goes to a variety of places. Perhaps it is charitable, or perhaps it buys back our epic souls by taking us to the football game or the opera. However, the greater part of our flexible assets tend to go toward what we love. It pays for a home and furniture for our wives and families, or for an engagement ring so we can have those things in the first place. It pays for medicine, for insurance, for gifts, for gasoline so we can visit (a rapidly growing piece of the pie, to be sure!). It pays for phone calls on Mothers’ Day and flowers at Valentines. It funds the local church. Whatever it goes to, Scripture is certainly correct to highlight the intimate connection between our hearts and our treasures. We could not show love to these things in the same way without work.
We work because it throws God’s glory into stark relief. God has allowed suffering and struggle and frustration and work for a variety of purposes. Chief among these is the fact that the Rest he offers is even sweeter when opposed to the grime of this world. When we work, we participate in the God-ordained order of things, and this order will make the glory of his Gospel all the more wonderful.
So then, I do not encourage you to destroy the alarm clock, lose your time card, put your cell phone on silent and commune with the trees. Well, not between 8am and 5pm, anyways. Instead, as Christians we are called to faithfully endure all the frustrations of this world –yes, even work- so that God may accomplish his ultimate purposes through our faithfulness to his calling.
And maybe, just maybe, our submission to his order will draw us into greater joy, even in a place where deadlines and inboxes unnaturally define our short-term happiness.