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God the Creator - Creating the heavens and the earth
The earth - was “tohu vavohu” wild and waste
The Creator worked - brought “tov” (good) order, and beauty, and benefit (forming and filling)
The Creator formed man and filled him with his breath
Man was created in God’s image - God put man in the garden to work it and keep it; to reproduce themselves to make culture, be reflections of their Creator
The Creator commanded the human not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; which came with this choice for moral maturity
The serpent (embodiment of evil) convinced the humans to eat of the tree - they would be able to determine right and wrong
The humans joined the rebellion - sin fractures God’s design for work
The Creator expelled the humans from the garden - cursing the ground
The curse meant there would be (thorns and thistles) resistance to the work of the humans
The story begins with a good and generous Creator that worked to bring about beauty and order for the benefit of His most prized Creation, human.
He offered human a relationship, one where they would work together to bring about more beauty, and order, and benefit to others.
He also offered humans an opportunity for moral maturity by planting a tree inside of this garden and instructing them not to eat of this tree.
But the humans were convinced by a serpent, the embodiment of evil, to join him in a rebellion against the Creator.
A rebellion where the humans could declare what was right and what was wrong.
The Creator also made a promise - the Offspring of the woman would defeat the source of evil
The Cross of Christ is the ultimate WORK
The Cross of Christ and His resurrection brings a fresh vision for work - Christians as first fruits of the New Creation work as Rulers and Priests (Ambassadors) within God’s Kingdom (where Christ is King) while we continue to do our work amongst the rebellion of the serpent and the resistance from the curse
How can I bring order, how can I bring beauty, how can I bring benefit?
The Work of the New Creation is a spiritual one - what task you do is not nearly as important as how you go about that task.
We are all priests and rulers - not with robes and scepters, but by prayer, holiness, and serving
God’s design for work and relationships was fractured by the choice humans made to join this rebellion, but God in His generosity and mercy, promised that He would bring about an offspring of the woman to crush the head of the serpent; a Redeemer that would bring about restoration and reconciliation.
- groaning (fires in North Bay, earthquakes in Mexico, hurricanes in Puerto Rico and the lower east coast, flooding in Texas)
He is the first worker in the history of the world
We can’t punt the ball on being the ambassador at our workplace
This turn in the story did not negate God’s design, however.
The humans would now have to bring about beauty, and order, and benefit to others with great resistance.
Resistance because of the sinfulness in their hearts, and the sinfulness in the hearts of their neighbors and co-laborers.
He defined His work by that which brought order, beauty, and benefit to others
The serpent’s rebellion still has attraction - we’re tempted to make an idol of our work, or become idle in our work
The work under the Work
He Created humans to be His images in the world
This became much more difficult and painful than at first one would imagine.
There were very few signs of hope that work would be reflective of the Creator’s work and the Creator’s instructions.
And after several thousand years the Redeemer finally came to earth and began doing the Work that the Creator said He would do.
And His finished work on the cross with His resurrection from the grave inaugurated a new era where those who have been rescued by the work of Christ have a renewed vision of everything including, God’s design for work.
Our vocation to be God’s priests and rulers is the same, but we are all priests and rulers living with the understanding that while we are citizens in God’s Kingdom (where Christ is King) we still live in a world where the majority of humans are still in rebellion against God’s rule.
Bringing order, beauty, and benefit to others
And before we move on in the series, I should be very clear that this series is designed to confront the way we think about work.
You might not hate your job, in fact you might “love” your job.
What I mean by confront is this:
But He offered humans an opportunity for moral maturity
Humans beings
If we hate our job, perhaps it’s because we don’t have a biblical vision for work - that work can be fulfilling regardless of what you’re doing if we’re waking up each morning and praying that God’s Spirit fills us up with grace to bring order out of chaos, beauty out of the wasteland, and benefit for others.
On the other hand, if we “love” our work, I want to poke you for a second.
Are we in love with our work because the pay is good, the benefits are even better, I never have to bring work home, I can keep my life in balance, my coworkers are all nice, but they let me keep to myself.
So what is it that we really love?
Can we sit back and feel good about the fact that we aren’t in the 70% of America that hates their job?
What does being priests and rulers actually mean?
Are we talking about joining in on the camp of dominionism?
When I say priests and rulers, we should not think robes and scepters.
When I say priests and rulers we should think of people who were given authority and responsibility to bring beauty and order and benefit to others.
To understand what it would mean to be priests and rulers (The call given to human in , , , and here) we simply need to keep reading where we left off in the letter that Peter, one of Jesus’s closest followers, wrote:
​ ESVBeloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.
Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
Vocationally, we all have the same calling.
We’re rulers and priests where we are (stay at home mom, and salesman, and nurse) so what do we do?
We work to bring order and beauty and benefit to others.
We pray for God’s Kingdom to come and His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.
As priests and rulers we pursue holiness and justice where we are.
IT’s within that context that we can start walking along the path of the other instructions we see in the NT, like:
​ ESVWhatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,
​ ESVLet the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.
How you spend the majority of your waking hours (your work) is not a mystery.
Do what is in front of you.
Don’t overthink the WHAT, but the HOW.
How you spend the majority of your waking hours (your work) is not a mystery.
Do what is in front of you.
Don’t overthink the WHAT, but the HOW.
And by the power of the Holy Spirit, through prayer, and holiness, you will show the world around you the GLORY of God — You will show the nature and character of God.
That is what work looks like on this side of the cross and this side of eternity.
But what happens when (and we will) we experience sin in our hearts and in our coworkers hearts and resistance on our projects?
We remind each other of the hope of the return of the King.
And lastly, for those who are here today and you are just hearing some of this about submitting to God’s rule and reign and sin and the Redemption of Christ, I invite you today while people come in a few minutes for communion to talk with me.
Now, there are at least two pieces of this story that we haven’t gotten to yet.
We talked about the resistance to our work that comes from outside of us, but what about the resistance that comes from within us?
I’m talking about the resistance that comes from our heart that either causes us to be idle at our work or make an idol of our work?
This is what Tim Keller calls the “Work under the work.”
We only briefly glossed over the part where we learn that God rested from His work.
We aren’t generally exhausted by our work, but the work beneath the work is what is exhausting.
It’s the work that we do to get a sense of self through the vehicle of productivity and success.
We only briefly glossed over the part where we learn that God rested from His work.
Gen 2:
We really are not grasping a healthy work-life balance unless we really understand what God is (by example) teaching His Creation.
Did God need to rest?
He doesn’t tell us here, but we learn from other sections of Scripture that God is Spirit, God is not flesh like we are, He is limitless, so no, He did not NEED rest the way that we need rest.
Yet, He rested.
As with everything even though we are a redeemed people, but living in a broken planet, we have a propensity to make an idol of our work, or become at idle at our work.
It is not a secret that society pushes us to find our identity in what we do, rather than who we are.
And we know this is true because it’s how our society becomes introduced to each other.
I remember when I was living in Redwood City there was a girl who was in our student ministry who had recently graduated from college and was hired by a Bay Area aerospace company.
When she was introduced to others in the group we would always add to the intro, “This is Veronica, she’s a Rocket Scientist.”
Some of us distance ourselves from our work title because it’s not impressive sounding.
But others of us are very comfortable with our title as our identity label, “Yeah, I’m a senior manager...”
Think of the way we define success.
Job titles, salaries, compensation packages, promotions, awards… So how does this align with the biblical definition of success?
Could you define success from a biblical perspective?
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