Monday, March 26, 2007

A Christian View of Work 8: Workng for evil ends is idolatry

Some work is now idolatry

As we saw earlier, work is worship.

That is just as much the case now as it is was before the fall. Work is still worship. But we are not always worshipping the Lord. If we are not serving the Lord with our work, we are replacing him.

A. Some ‘work’ is idolatry because what we do is in itself evil.

The chapter after the fall, Adam’s sons are going out into the field. But Cain doesn’t expend his energy tilling the ground; he expends energy murdering his brother.

Now Cain said to his brother Abel, "Let's go out to the field." And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him. Then the LORD said to Cain, "Where is your brother Abel?" "I don't know," he replied. "Am I my brother's keeper?" The LORD said, "What have you done? Listen! Your brother's blood cries out to me from the ground. Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth." (Genesis 4:8-12)

Rather than creating to reflect God’s image, Cain destroys: His sin is an act of uncreation. And it renders Abel’s life fleeting. (That’s what it means – Abel is the word translated ‘meaningless’ in Ecclesiastes.)

We need to think about this in our work. If we do anything that treats a client, colleague or competitor unfairly, then we are un-creating rather than creating. We are sinning rather than serving.

Worshipful work is intended to be the bringing of order out of chaos for the glory of God. But we can exert effort to bring chaos out of order. This is idolatry, to work to serve the devil's ends rather than the Lord's. Cain exerts energy to take his brother's innocent life.

If we are willing to bill clients for more hours than we worked for them, that is an act of ‘uncreation’ for we are sending out lies rather than proclaiming the truth. If we are willing not to challenge unsubstantiated rumors that we hear about a colleague, because we think those rumors might help us to get the promotion instead of our colleague, then that deliberate silence is an act of uncreation. If we are happy to provide a second rate product to somebody because there is more gain to us than there would be if we provided them a first rate product that doesn’t make us so much money, then that is uncreation.

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