vocation

Work and the True Story of the Whole World

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In another post, Benjamin Quinn defined work as “what creatures do with God’s creation.” If that’s the case, then we must understand creation to understand work.  Scripture is our final authority and offers us the tools to understand creation and how it informs our work.

Creation

God created everything and declared that it was good (Gen 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31). This affirmation dispels the notion of a sacred-secular divide (i.e., dualism), which implies that only part of creation is good. Dualistic thought subverts a Christian understanding of the workplace and divorces our faith from everyday tasks. In essence, dualism divides our allegiance and thwarts our ability to engage our work with kingdom-oriented single-mindedness. It draws a line through the world and forces us to walk on both sides of it, ultimately relegating spiritual matters to one side and vocational and other common concerns to the other.[1] In the end, a worldview divided into sacred and secular spheres undermines the teachings of Scripture (Gen 1; 1 Tim 4:4) and fails to recognize that the Christian life as a whole is dedicated to the Lord.

Humanity is the crowning jewel of creation, and God pronounced it to be “very good” (Gen 1:31). The essence of humanity’s goodness is that we are image bearers of God himself, which means that, like God, we exist in relationship to the things and people around us. Human existence is characterized by four relationships that illuminate the scope of redemption and demonstrate how our work furthers God’s plan of redemption: relationship with God, with one another, with oneself and with God’s creation.

A worldview divided into sacred and secular spheres undermines the teachings of Scripture.

The Fall

At the fall in Genesis 3, a loving God gave Adam and Eve the ability to express their love for him by choosing to follow his commands or to pursue joy and fulfillment on their own — the decision to eat the fruit from the tree of knowledge. Adam and Eve chose to eat from the tree, and their sinful act of rebellion fractured the harmony that characterized all that God declared to be good, including humanity’s fundamental relationships. Sin created a divide between man and God, strife between people, unrest within every individual, and disorder among God’s creation.

Redemption

Every good story has a conflict and resolution, and Scripture is no exception. In the same chapter that chronicles the fall of humanity — the conflict — the biblical writer records the resolution — the beginning of God’s plan for redemption. Genesis 3:15 declares, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” In short, this is the first proclamation of Christ’s coming to restore all that God originally declared to be good.

Restoration

The Old Testament documents God faithfully keeping his promises to his people. One promise — the coming of the Son of David — was later fulfilled in Jesus (Matt 1:1). Christ’s death and resurrection initiated an era in which the restorative power of the cross can be glimpsed throughout God’s creation, including in our work. But God’s work of redemption will culminate in a restoration of his Eden-like rule and reign only during his coming kingdom. The entire biblical drama moves toward this end.[2]

As the story unfolds, we work.

This post was originally published on June 2, 2016. It is a modified excerpt from Every Waking Hour. Learn more>>

 

[1] Gordon Spykman, Reformational Theology: A New Paradigm for Doing Dogmatics (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992), 66-67.

[2] Russell Moore, “The Doctrine of the Last Things,” in A Theology for the Church (Nashville: B&H, 2007), 858.

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Walter R. Strickland II

Dr. Strickland is Associate Vice President for Kingdom Diversity. He also serves as Assistant Professor of Systematic and Contextual Theology. He is the co-author of Every Waking Hour.

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