Blog - Grasping Vocation
Religious Ruts in Your Work World: Part 5Friday, April 23, 2010
YOU HAVE HEARD: WORK IS PART OF GOD'S PUNISHMENT FOR SIN (Read Part 4)
BUT SCRIPTURE MAKES IT CLEAR: GOD, THE WORKER, MADE US AS WORKERS BEFORE SIN ENTERED THE WORLD
You've seen those houses with lean-to's jutting from outside walls. A lean-to is merely an attachment, an add-on, not part of the original design. The tradition that work is part of God's punishment for sin teaches us to see work as a lean-to, something God tacked onto us after he made us.
But our working is not an afterthought. It's part of who we are. God first reveals himself as a Worker. Genesis 2:2 describes his creating activity in chapter one as “the work he had been doing.” In the same chapter (2:15), God places the man he created in his likeness in the Garden of Eden “to work it and take care of it.” All this took place before Genesis 3 where sin makes its debut. We are workers because God is a Worker. As we work, we are to reflect him and his work. So working is not an add-on. It is built into our very beings.
In his book, Happier (p. 93), Tal Ben-Shahar refers to a study by Donald Hebb some 80 years ago. Hebb gave 600 students ranging from 6 to 15 years of age just what they most wanted to hear: no more homework required. The discipline for acting up? They would be sent outside to play. The reward for right conduct? Schoolwork. The outcome surprised nearly everyone. It took just a couple of days for the young people to find they would rather work than not work. Working is built into the very being of anyone made in the likeness of the working God. It's part of who he made us to be.
That truth helps us understand Eric Liddell (Chariots of Fire), who said, “God made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure.” When your work lines up with your God-given gifting, you can honestly say, “When I work, I feel his pleasure.”
For years, I kept Ephesians 2:10 inside the religious box: “For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” The “good works,” I thought, were done in church programs and on foreign mission fields. But the Greek word translated “works” in this verse is the same word Mark 13:34 uses to describe the “tasks” of ordinary household servants. One Greek lexicon defines the word as “that which one normally does—‘work, task'.”
True, sin brought pain to our work. Any occupation includes the thorns, thistles, and sweat God promises in Genesis 3. Even pastors and missionaries experience work-related frustrations. So sin built the lean-to, the add-on, against our work. But the work itself came before sin. Because we're made in the image of the Worker God, working is part of who we are.
Have you experienced God's pleasure in your work? If so, describe how.