Monday, March 12, 2007

A Christian view of Work 3: Work is Good because Work is Worship

Work is worship.

Eden is more than a garden. It was the place where God lived. Now, obviously God is everywhere. His word stretches out over the universe, just as it stretched the universe out. But in the garden, Adam and Eve met with God. They should have forever enjoyed walking with the Lord (Genesis 3:8).
Furthermore, in the middle of the garden were two trees, the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:9). The tree of life demonstrated God to be the source of all life. We have life only through our connection to God the life-giver. The tree of knowledge demonstrated that God ruled:
And the LORD God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die’ (Genesis 2:16-17).

God had the right to say what Adam could and could not do. Adam was not just to work as he saw fit, but to do so under God’s rule.
Not only does the tree of knowledge signify God’s ruling presence, so does the description of the land.
A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters. The name of the first is the Pishon; it winds through the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold. (The gold of that land is good; aromatic resin and onyx are also there.) (Gen. 2:10-12).

How strange to mention the presence of gold and precious stones. We don’t come across these onyx stones anywhere else in the Old Testament apart from one place. They turn up seven times in Exodus 25-40. In those chapters gold is mentioned 84 times.

So what’s Genesis 2 got to do with Exodus 25-40? That section of Exodus refers to the making of the tabernacle—the place where God would symbolize his presence with his people.
So what has this got to do with work? The word used for Adam’s work in Eden is the word used for the service of the priests in the tabernacle and temple. In other words, work and worship are bound together so closely that the call to work is the call to worship God. The work that man is called to in Eden is about worship—about serving the Lord.
Whatever our work, so long as it isn’t sinful, it is worship. Therefore, we should see our work as part of the Lord’s great work of bringing glory to himself.
The story is told of a traveler who, entering a city, comes across a vast building site where men are hewing and carrying large stones. He approaches one worker who is covered in dust as he hews what looks like a section of a pillar. “What are you doing?” the traveler asks. “Can’t you see? I’m hewing this stone.” Another man is carving something onto one of the stones already cut. The traveler asks him, “What are you doing?” “I’m earning seven groats a week,” he replies. A third man is almost buckling under the weight of a vast stone he is carrying. “What are you doing?” the traveler inquires. With a little light in his eyes, the worker responds, “I’m building a cathedral!”
Do we see our work as a part of God’s great plan to bring glory to his name, or merely as a drudgery inflicted upon us, or a necessary evil to earn our keep?
Paul reminds us that all our work should be an act of worship. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Colossians 3:23-24).That all our work is for the Lord should inform our attitude and response to relationships and circumstances at work. It can be enormously frustrating when a boss or an employee doesn’t do things the way we would like. We must remember that our work isn’t primarily for us. It is for the honour and glory of the Lord Jesus. Consequently, we must be sure that we are being faithful and trust that this will please the Lord.

No comments: