Thursday, December 08, 2011

God, Work and Redemption

I want to preface what is to come, in this series, with a few books I have been reading that have given me much food for thought, pun intended.  Two of them are by Joel Salatin: “Everything I Want to do is Illegal” and “ Folks, This Ain’t Normal.”  Another book I am almost done with that has given me much to think about as I try and work through how we are to deal with technology and man’s attempts to “make life easier” is "Surviving Off Off-Grid" by Michael Bunker.  I think these are worthwhile books to read as we too often are so ingrained in a way of thinking that we need to be jolted out of our slumber and these books may help do just that.  Will you agree with all they say, maybe not, but these are books that may help you to look at things differently, and that is what we need today.   Also, both authors have a Christian worldview that sees all that is around us as God’s creation and that God has a way He desires for us to interact with it, a view I would pray we would all seek to posses.

When we look at any area of life we need to do so with God’s word as our standard, our filter, and this includes when we interact with God’s creation and our required stewardship of it.  When I speak of God’s word I mean not only His inerrant word but also His all-sufficient word.  If one does not see God’s word as sufficient for all of life then one will not seek to see what God says about every area of life and thus will end up setting up areas that are not judged by the only infallible rule of life, His word.  To make God honoring decisions we need to see what God’s word says about every area of life.  

I thought I would start with looking at the issue of work because so much of what we have to deal with today is promoted as being “required” so as to reduce our work, save time and increase our ability to spend more effort in recreation.  I need to mention here that the idea of saving time is misleading as we all have 24 hours and we invariably fill up every minute.  Thus, seldom do we actually save time but instead just rearrange the use of the minutes, now back to the subject of work.  The world seeks to tell us we need this device, that program or some other modification to our life because it will reduce our work and benefit us by giving us time to do any number of other “more” enjoyable activities.  Due to this propaganda, for most things I do not think this is too strong a word, we need to understand the biblical concept of “work” so as not to be taken in by the many claims of the world and its offerings.

To begin with work is not in and of itself evil.  Man was created and given dominion, stewardship, over the garden (Gen 1:26-31) that God created.  God calls what he had created, including the work of dominion, very good thus we see that work at this point is not what we think of it as today, but is instead good.   Work is not a result of the fall, as most treat it, but is a creation of God and is His means for man to care for His creation.  However, when man fell work became burdensome as God’s word reveals in Gen 3:17-19.   Adam would indeed keep working but in contrast to before the fall work would now be what we know it as today “WORK.”

We all too often look at work as just that, work, something to avoid.  But have you ever contemplated why God chose work to be so hard because of the fall?  It was not simply as some form of punishment from an indiscretion but instead was, and is, to be a reminder.  It is to be a reminder of the state of our nature and a reminder of our need for redemption.  For the believer then there is hope in the midst of the toil of work.  Knowing this does not mean that work will be easy, as our flesh desires it to be, but it does let us know that as we work we can find joy as we contemplate that God is reminding us of all He has done, is doing and will do, in our lives.  Thus, we should not avoid work but embrace it and seek to redeem it by having an attitude of remembering what it signifies.  In our toil work lets us see our rebellion against God, our reliance on Him for redemption and it also reminds of the glorious hope that is before us.  For me this is convicting as I often grumble at work not being as easy as I would like it to be instead of taking the toil and looking at it as I should, a vivid reminder.  While we should seek to be efficient and work as best we can, so as to glorify God, even then we need to realize work in our fallen state is meant to be tiresome and troubling so as to remind us of our sin and Christ’s work.  That is where true peace and joy in the midst of work comes from, when we recognize why work is as it is.

When we think of joy and peace we all too often define them by the world’s standards and thus we cannot find joy and peace in the midst of our toil and trials.  Let us not forget that Christ in going to the cross found joy in knowing what was ahead (Hebrews 12:2.). He suffered more than we can ever imagine by taking on the sins of His people but His joy was in knowing He was glorifying the Father.  We need this attitude of joy in our work and for me that is very convicting.  It is in having a right view of work that will allow us to make right choices and not let promises of pleasure and rest dictate the decisions we make. Having a right, biblical, view of work, joy and peace will allow us to take what from a worldly perspective is a hard route and see our situation as one that sanctifies us and thus most glorifies God.

We are to be serious about the work God has for us and should not be complacent in our endeavors, seeking just to get by. When we work we are to do so for His glory because of what He has done in us and is doing through us in our work..  The world can only toil at work thus its instinct will be to avoid work but we as believers are to know that work is our destiny and we need to see God’s hand in it.  What a joy that is.

Having a right view of work is imperative so as to inform our every decision for God’s glory.  However, the world seeks to set before us an alternate reality, an alternate path to take. One where work is sought after to be non-existent and where recreation is the goal of all we do.  We are sold this worldview in everything from vacation getaway plans, such as “time-shares,” to fast food offerings all of which are to save us time, effort and increase pleasure.  We fall for this advertising that seeks to make us feel as if we can avoid work and it’s toil because our sin nature wants to forget about our sin, neglect God’s redemption and not realize there is only true freedom in what God offers.  The world wants us to believe that true happiness can only be found without work and promotes the concept that work is evil.  We as believers need to remember that while work may be hard and tiresome it is not evil.  It is, as we have already seen, in reality a great reminder of what God has done, is doing and will do in our lives.  It is the avenue God has given us for dominion and stewardship of His creation and we need to partake of work as God defines it, hardships and all, so as to experience the peace and joy only God brings when we are seeking to glorify Him.

I started with the topic of work as I think it is at the core of many of the wrong decisions we make with regards to the care of God’s creation.  For example man crowds the animals God has provided us into unnatural surroundings known as Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) as this is our way of saving time, work and as we are often told, to be more productive.  However in doing this not only do we treat God’s creation, the animals and the land, poorly we also create food that is not conducive to good health and thus makes us less able to work as we need to and thus not glorify God as we ought.  Also, by our not wanting to work we have allowed the melding of science and “nutrition”, even though it is not really nutritious, in such a way as to make substances that are called food and are sold to us as being able to reduce our work and leave more time for recreation.   Again, when we lose sight of the biblical meaning of work we make decisions that not only are bad for us they negate the glorification of God in our relation to the work God has for us.

So, there are some thoughts on work and how it relates to creation and areas such as food.  If you take anything from this I pray it is to see that work is a gift of God.  Yes we have to deal with the affects of sin in our work but by the work of Christ we can find joy in the midst of our toil.  While we should seek to be more efficient as we work I pray we would always weigh our motives by biblical standards.  Let us see if our goal is to be better stewards of God’s creation, for His glory, or if it is to avoid the work God has for before us.   Let us make sure we do not buy into the world’s view of work but cling to God’s view.  Always seeing in work a reminder of our sin, a reminder of God’s work in redeeming us and a reminder of the future peace to come at His return.   Let our view of work be a stark contrast to the world’s and let our lives live out that difference in our thoughts, words and actions.

More to come on other areas relating to our interaction with God’s creation.

This is a sermon delivered 12/25/11 on this subject: God, Work and Redemption

Previous Posts in this Series:


JLTan said...

IMHO, work is one of these funny entities. If we don't have it, then we want it. Life becomes boring, unfulfilling, etc. without work. However, when we have too much of it, then we long for rest.

I think God designed us for both work and rest. We just need to find the right balance.

Tony Konvalin said...

Thanks for commenting.

We do need rest and hense the reason we are to rest on the Sabbath. I also think it is a right view of work and how it realtes to all else God has for us that can make work what it is not intended to be.

The idea that we need to work is often turned into an end and not just a means and thus work becomes an idol.

But at the end of the day it is when we see that work is to glorify God that work can take on a different perspective in our lives.

Thomas S. Barnes said...

Tony this is a terrific article. It is extremely convicting, but hits me where I am at right now. I have been processing through the dominion mandate in regards to the work God has set before us. I am about to read this to the family. Thanks a ton for sharing this.


Tony Konvalin said...

Thanks Thomas, I fleshed out a few more things in the sermon but the article summarizes it pretty well. Sort of strange that I went from the summary to the sermon but is how it worked out.

I was reading an article the other day on Biblical Agrarianism and it had some comments on "dominion" that was food for thought. Here is the link to the article:

I am glad to hear that the article was beneficial to you and your family.

By the way in working through the article and sermon I was greatly convicted about my attitude at my current place of employment.

Have a great evening with your family.

Grace and Peace,


Thomas S. Barnes said...

I plan on listening to the sermon this evening.