We Were Created to Work

danger-man-at-work-hiMany people have a love/hate relationship with the word “work.” They like the idea of accomplishing goals and earning their keep, but the actual sweat and effort makes them squirm.

I often hear men boys complain about their workload—the hours are long, the work is menial, their boss is a tyrant, the amount of homework stresses them out, it hurts their fingers—but then with a little bravado in their voice they announce, “Well, it’s just my cross to bear. Work is a part of the Fall. Thanks a lot, Eve,” and then they’re applauded for their perseverance.

CREATED TO WORK

Those guys are wrong. Work is actually not a part of the Fall. Adam began working the very day he was created. Genesis 2:15 says, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.”

Work has always been a part of God’s original design for mankind. We were created to work. We were created to cultivate. We were created to create.

What comes with the Fall is not the reality of work but the cursing of our work (Gen. 3:17-19). Now what we create resists. What we cultivate rebels just like we did to God.

Sin has entered into our work. Instead of working to spread the glory of God, we gravitate towards two different extremes—laziness or idolatry. One man may hide between his parents’ couch cushions to avoid working too hard at Taco Bell. The other works 90 hour weeks, neglects his family, his faith, and his health, all for a corner office.

Both are sin.

Work is a lot more difficult now, but we are still called to work and that work can still be good.

WHO’S THE BOSS

We were created to work but not for ourselves and not to create our own meaning. We work and create because—being made in the image of God—we are to reflect the God who created the world and works in human lives.

Our work is worship to Him. Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.”

You can be a pastor, a lawyer, a mailman, a student, a plumber, a stay-at-home mother, an accountant, or a barista and work hard and well, remembering the whole time your true employer is Jesus Christ. Negative attitudes and half-hearted service wouldn’t please an earthly boss, let alone our Heavenly One.

Jesus died that we would reflect Him in every aspect of our lives. How we flip burgers is not of little value. Everything matters.

That truth should encourage us to make those lattes or crunch those numbers to the best of our abilities—to the glory of Christ. Through your work you can show others how great your God is, that His transforming power infiltrates even the littlest of actions.

You don’t need a seminary degree or a title for permission to minister full-time as a vocation. A banker can make just as much an impact for the Kingdom as a pastor. But this is only possible if our work is for Christ and not ourselves. He is our Lord and Savior and He is the only One who can give our work true meaning.

For further reading check out Tim Keller’s book, Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work.

This post was adapted from a previous post by me on the Ekklesia Eugene blog.

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Book Blurbs: November

Once a month I will write about some of the books that I have been reading or am planning to read in the near future.  This is far from a full personal reading list which in my opinion seems a little self-glorifying (“Come and have a taste of the great knowledge that I have gained through reading 100 books a month”) and potentially embarrassing (considering how many romance novels I read…just, um, kidding).  I’m only going to write about books that I consider helpful, fascinating, or just all around a good read.

Take it for what it is.

Should Christians Embrace Evolution: Biblical & Scientific Responses, edited by Norman C. Nevin and foreword by Wayne Grudem. With the acceptance of Theistic Evolution (the theory that God used the evolutionary process to bring about all life) on the rise in the church, this book is a theological and scientific examination and response.  I am teaching a creationism class at Ekklesia so I was extremely interested in this book.  Basically, the books is half theological (written by theologians) and half scientific (written by scientists). It is well written and easy to understand without losing the punch of a deeply theological and/or scientific argument.  Many creationism books fall back on straw man arguments or cliches. This book avoids both and spends more time displaying the evidence for creation instead of just focusing on the evidence against evolution.  The conclusion at the end of the book to the title’s question is a resounding no.

Three Views on Creation and Evolution, edited by J.P. Moreland and John Mark Reynolds. Part of the Counterpoints series published by Zondervan, Three Views takes Young Earth Creationism, Old Earth Creationism and Theistic Evolution and pits them against each other, each questioning the other and defending themselves.  I always enjoy hearing from other viewpoints and seeing why they differ from mine so I enjoyed this book and have enjoyed the other books from the Counterpoints series that I have perused.  Available on Kindle.

Lit!: A Christian Guide to Reading Books, by Tony Reinke. This is literally a book about reading books, which either sounds cannibalistic or redundant, I haven’t decided yet.  More specifically, Lit! is a book about how Christians should read books, both Christian and non-Christian.  In fact, Reinke has a whole chapter on the benefits of reading non-Christian books (gasp!).  He splits the book into two halves, one dedicated to the “theology of books and reading” and the other on “some practical advice on book reading.” Despite my constant sarcasm, this was actually a really interesting book and inspired me to broaden my reading horizons to includes genres and viewpoints that I normally would not have.  This is also an encouraging book for those of you who either have a hard time reading or retaining what you have read.  For those of you who do not like to read, wait until the movie comes out. Available on Kindle.

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, by Eric Metaxes. This is a biography on the life of controversial theologian/pastor/spy/assassin Dietrich Bonhoeffer. The book follows Bonhoeffer as he tries to grapple with being a faithful Christian and a loyal German during World War II.  Needless to say, Bonhoeffer chooses to be faithful to Christ and the Word of God while almost all of the German church chooses country and Hitler.  To be honest I have not read that many biographies but this one intrigued me for many reasons.  First, Bonhoeffer was a man who stood for the truth in a country that had abandoned it and that is something that resonates in my heart as our country sinks further into moral relativism.  Second, I am absolutely fascinated by the psychology of Bonhoeffer’s ethics and theology that allowed him to be willing to conspire towards Hitler’s assassination.  A post in the future will examine these themes from the book.  Available on Kindle.

Disciplines of a Godly Man, by R. Kent Hughes. I am of firm belief that men today need to be more disciplined, not in the sense of just working hard (although that is a big part!) but living life in a holistically disciplined way.  How Hughes sees this working out in a man’s life is through 18 different disciplines that men ought to cultivate in their lives.  I had always thought of myself as a disciplined man until I hit chapter one.  A great kick in the pants to the men of our culture that are content with and proud of an undisciplined life.  I don’t normally say this but I think every man, young or old, married or single, should read this book.  Available on Kindle.

Futurecast: What Today’s Trends Mean for Tomorrow’s World, by George Barna. This book is by the founder and head of Barna Group, the famous Christian information gathering and analyzation organization.  Barna has taken all of that information and used it to examine the trends of our culture—in areas such as money, family, religion, morals—and what they will lead to in the future.  A word of warning though: Barna’s theology of the church and examination of ancient church history is a little iffy and he becomes a little bias towards house churches; in this, Barna loses his objectivity that he keeps for most of the remainder of the book.  All in all, a fascinating and seemingly accurate look at our culture and what the future holds.  Available on Kindle.

The Reason For Sports: A Christian Fanifesto, by Ted Kluck.  Kluck calls for an accurate theology of sports within the church.  We can neither become idolatrous of sports or reject them.  Kluck finds a biblical middle ground through sports stories and relates them to the Christian life.  This book is in fact a collection of essays covering topics from Mike Tyson, steroids, athlete apologies, and humility (or the lack of it).  I enjoyed Kluck in Why We’re Not Emergent: By Two Guys Who Should Be
and Why We Love the Church: In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion and I love sports so I knew this would be a match made in heaven.  Kluck tends to stick to his big guns, which is writing about sports and giving vivid stories, but even when he writes about the Bible and its truths, he does so with flare.  Available on Kindle.

Forbidden (The Books of Mortals), by Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee.  Forbidden is set in a dystopian future where the whole world has nearly destroyed itself but is now united under the Order.  Little does everyone know that they are actually “dead”, not zombie dead but dead in the sense that they have been stripped of the essence that makes us human, emotion.  One man name Rom is cured of his death and chaos ensues.  Dekker is like the Dean Koontz of Christianity—thrillers, sci fi, and fantasy are his MO.  Dekker’s books are like my guilty pleasure, my cheesecake amongst wheatgrass smoothies; pastors aren’t supposed to read these kinds of books, right?!  To be honest, I really like Dekker’s style of writing.  He has a way of writing that makes it feel like I am watching an action flick—sometimes even like I am in it.  I was interested to see how Tosca Lee’s presence would affect this style.  The only difference I see is that the prose is clever and flows, which was lacking in Dekker’s previous books (No offense, Ted!).  Forbidden is the first of a planned trilogy and I am interested to see what happens next!  Caution to those who do not like violence; this book is full of it like heart is full of blood.  Available on Kindle.