Human beings are absolutely amazing! Considering the beauty and complexity of anthropological design, Israel’s King David correctly concluded, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made!” (Psalm 139:14) Indeed, the magnificence of humanity commands attention and evokes awe.
AT THE RISK OF SOUNDING PREACHY…
A fundamental understanding of man within both Judaism and Christianity is a belief in the Creator God and that humans are His creation. According to Scripture, the human race was created in the image of God or “imago Dei” to be “like Him.” God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness” (Genesis 1:26).
Together the words, “image” and “likeness” tell us mankind is a representation of God and is like Him in certain aspects. Human beings are made “a little lower than God, and You crowned with glory and honor” (Psalm 8:5, NASB). Humans are uniquely designed, gifted, posed and empowered to actively represent Him on earth.
From the start God intended that humanity represent Him with divinely apportioned dominion “over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground” (Genesis 1:28). Representing our Creator on earth began with Adam and Eve and then extended to His agents, as observed throughout Scripture. The task continues today.
The New Testament further supports the notion of representation initially presented in Genesis. Believers are charged and graced with the responsibility of representation and partnership as followers of Jesus Christ. To the Corinthian church Paul writes, “As God’s co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain” (2 Corinthians 6:1). To the Philippians he writes, “Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” (2:12b-13). To work out is not to work for. Instead, it means to give full expression to the salvation work of God in us.
IT’S MORE THAN A JOB
In the Biblical context, work includes our job—that for which we are paid or earn our livelihood, but extends well beyond it, including all that we are obliged to do to meet physical and social needs.1 It should be noted that the obligatory nature of work in supplying or providing for basic needs and desires with the proverbial “blood, sweat and tears” in mind is observed after the Fall (see Genesis 3:17-19).
Originally the purpose of God in endowing humans with the capacity, skill and responsibility of work was to do so delightfully—that is to be fruitful, multiply, fill and subdue the earth in pleasant alliance with Him (see Genesis 1:26-28). Moreover, Solomon aptly expresses God’s intent regarding professional fulfillment and our understanding for working man—that he “enjoy the good of all his labor—it is the gift of God” (see Ecclesiastes 3:9-13).
However, somewhere along the way, the thought has been propagated that work is evil. One of the culprits in this misguided thinking stems from the constant barrage of television and social media ads. You know, the ones that seem to pop up every two minutes on your screen, buzzing with testimonials of people who have managed to amass enough money that they no longer are bothered with the hum-drum lifestyle which includes a j-o-b.
They make it look so easy, sitting by the pool with a drink in their hand, surrounded by tanned beach bodies. Now, if you’ve purchased one of these “systems” but didn’t experience million-dollar success, don’t feel bad. Most folks who succumb to this temptation soon realize the ones getting rich are those selling the systems.
Media hounds aren’t the only ones who have undermined the value of work—the super-spiritual have added to it as well. These are the ones who argue, “If Eve hadn’t blown it in the garden, we would not have to toil and work like we do.” Oh, really? It might do these folks some good to actually read the Bible. If they did, they would find that in the book of Genesis, someone was working long before Adam and Eve were ever alive on this planet. His name is God.
How do you think God created this amazing planet? He worked, and if God Himself works, then work must be a good thing. He even complimented His work saying, “It was very good” (see Genesis 1:31).
The Bible says that for six days God created, and on the seventh day He rested (see Genesis 2:2). But He didn’t stop there. Not only did God institute the idea of work, but He gave Adam a job—to tend the Garden—right after forming him from the dust of the earth (see Genesis 2:15). By the way, have you ever noticed that the Lord gave Adam a job before giving him a wife? Before he could take care of someone, he had to take care of something. That’s for another article entirely!
Notwithstanding, following Adam and Eve’s failure in Eden, work acquired a negative connotation. The Hebrew word ‘amal and the Greek words kopos and ponos each convey the idea that work is wearisome, anguishing, troubling and unfulfilling.2 Such is consistent with common contemporary reasoning regarding work as expressed in sayings like, “Work sucks” and “A cubicle is just a padded cell without a door.”
God is the ultimate worker. The heavens are the work of His fingers (see Psalm 8:3). Furthermore, “we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works” (Ephesians 2:10a). That said, we are urged to “follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children” (Ephesians 5:1).
Jesus indicated that He had a particular work to do on earth and used the pronoun “we” because we are part of that work (see John 9:4). Jesus associated Himself with mankind in the things He performed on behalf of the Father paving the way and preparing us for our role in the work of the Kingdom. We must take care of business, until Christ’s return (see Luke 19:13). That said:
Check out Lawrence Powell's new book The Good Life.
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