Somewhere along the way, the reputation of work was tainted. The idea took hold in our collective consciousness that work was a necessary evil rather than a social and personal good. Incomplete Christian thought has contributed to this neglect.
Writing Work Out of the Story
The story goes something like this:
Part 1: God creates a good world. People lived in the Garden of Eden and didn’t have to work.
Part 2: People fell from grace, they spoiled the world with a force called sin. Work was part of the curse of living in this fallen world.
Part 3: God will recreate the world and make it perfect. Popular images of the after life include absolutely no work. Floating on clouds, strumming harps, eating chocolate, but no work.
The good, bad, perfect movement provides a helpful frame for understanding the whole Bible in movements or acts. But the elimination of work from part 1 and part 3 is wrong. Human work is a thread through every part of God’s story.
Work in Every Part
Consider work at the beginning:
The LORD God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it (Genesis 2:15)
So human work, the responsibility to watch over, cultivate, and develop what God created came before the Fall (or the spoiling of the original good creation).
Consider work at the end…
And all the nations will bring their glory and honor into the city. (Revelation 21:26)
The City is the place where God is present. This is the time when the battle with evil is won and over. The glory and honor of the nations would be people from all cultures bring the fruit of their work to honor God.
Human Work, a thread through every part of God’s Story.
Could it be the retirement mentality has colored our view of work? Or maybe we minimize the contributions of human work to God’s story. Or perhaps the spoiling effects of the Fall on our experience of work make it hard for us to believe work is good. Whatever the source, work – the investment of human energy, skill, and creativity to improve life in this world— human work is part of God’s story from beginning to end. And that means the work you do today connects back to our unspoiled beginnings and forward to a perfect cosmos. It means your work has and always will matter to God.