Blog - Grasping Vocation
Turning Work into Ministry: Part 11--ConclusionSaturday, April 13, 2013
God’s "to do” list for us, seen in Genesis 1 and 2, includes communing with him, building community, and stewarding the earth. This is the final article in a series that has explored how we can carry these out in our daily work. For Part 10, click here.
of blogs has drawn its theme from the only time in the history of the planet
when God’s will was done perfectly on earth as in heaven. That, of course, was
the Genesis two-chapter account of the pre-sin era. In those chapters, we see
our earliest ancestors getting—and beginning to carry out—our work assignments
As we’ve seen, those responsibilities included: (1) communing with God, (2) building community, and (3) stewarding the earth. In his article, "Work,” in The Complete Book of Everyday Christianity, Gordon Preece says the same thing in different words: "In the divine economy, work is evaluated according to the way it fosters or retards relationships—between ourselves and God, our companions and the earthly resources we are called to develop” (p. 1140).
The event of Genesis 3—which we call the Fall—corrupted our ability to do our God-given work in all three areas. The cursed ground made our work a pain. And yet, our Creator loved us and his very good earth too much to abandon his original purposes. When the time was right, he sent his Son to restore not only our capacity to commune with him, but also our ability to build community and property-manage his earth.
In our renewed capacity to do God given work, communing with God has priority now, just as it did before the fall. Receiving Christ turns us into, well . . . receivers. Reflect on all the blessings the New Testament says you receive in him. The Holy Spirit. Forgiveness. Reconciliation. Power. Gifts. And so many more.
Only as we receive, take in, by communing with God, can we give out in building community and stewarding the earth. Have you traveled much by air? Then you’ve likely heard the standard warning by flight attendants: If you’re traveling with a child and the cabin should lose pressure, put the mask over your own mouth and nose first. Only after you first receive the oxygen yourself will you be able to do the work of helping the child.
Apply this to our daily work. We can make either of two errors. One, we can try to build community and steward the earth without first communing with God. Or two, we can commune with God and stop there—forgetting that he has also assigned to us the work of building community and stewarding the earth. The first error leaves us powerless. The second leaves us fruitless.
Think of the dignity, the breath-taking privilege, of being one of God’s receivers out there in a work world starved for spiritual "oxygen.” As you commune with God, like a branch drawing sap from its vine, you can demonstrate what true community-building and earth-stewarding looks like. And those blessings, as Isaac Watts put it in "Joy to the World,” will "flow far as the curse is found.” Work like that is ministry.