Wednesday, March 21, 2007

A Christian view of Work 6: Work is now Laborious.

1. All Work is now laborious

All Work is now hard. For the woman, the man she was called to help would no longer be a constant joy to obey. He would take advantage of the position of responsibility that God had given him over her, and use it not to bring Glory to the Lord, but to rule her for his own ends.
The process of bringing new workers into the world is no longer something that can be unequivocally celebrated: for those who come into the world will not perfectly proclaim the Lord’s rule. And so the joy of a new image-bearer is marred by extraordinary pain.
For the man it meant that all work becomes hard and frustrating. In one sense the work is the same. He is still to bring order out of chaos. He is still to till the earth for food. But the earth is now against him. It will produce thorns and thistles. Adam will produce sweat as well as wheat.
The reason for this is often misunderstood. It is not that the fall of man has inevitably led to the ground being against him as if there were some mechanical connection between Adam and the earth. It is rather that the ground is cursed by God. Adam had served himself rather than proclaiming God’s rule. In anger God shows Adam and the whole human race what it means to have someone else as God.
As Romans 1:18-25 puts it,
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator--who is forever praised. Amen.
Because humanity is in rebellion against God, God pours his anger out upon humanity.
So, you are digging your garden and the shovel breaks in your hands. That is because in His anger God has cursed the ground. You are going shopping and the cart veers off into a stack of tinned prunes. That’s because God has cursed the materials that make the ball bearings in the wheels.
When something goes wrong, we often say, “Oh, it’s a result of the fall. It’s Adam’s fault.” Yes. Without the fall it wouldn’t be like that. But more precisely it’s a result of the curse… It is God’s doing.
The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. (Romans 8:19-21)
This completely changes our attitude towards frustration at work. Frustration is not just an annoying thing that gets on our nerves and serves no purpose. Frustration is something that God is working to a purpose. Frustration at work is something that is crying out to us, “God is angry with this world!” This world is not worth living for. There is a glorious freedom that you should be living for. And so, frustration begins to proclaim to the world the gospel.
For once we know that the wrath of God is being revealed against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, we will ask: does that include me? And when we are told, “Yes it does, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” We will ask, “Well how can I be put right with God?” How can I be justified!? And we find that through faith in Jesus Christ God has revealed not his anger this time, but a way to get right with him.
Frustration is frustrating. It is supposed to be. God has designed it to be so, for it is that frustration that makes the News that we need a Savior credible.
God subjected the creation to frustration in hope. There is hope in frustration. The hope that people would long for their final adoption into a new and better world. Praise God that work is frustrating and I am therefore less tempted to live for this world!

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