Distortions of Work

Work as Worship

Date: February 1, 2015
Study: Work as Worship
Teacher: Lawson Hembree

All believers are primarily called to salvation and discipleship, and that our secondary callings are our personal response to God’s primary call—the ways in which our own particular skills, talents, and gifts, are put to work providentially to love God and our neighbors.

Seven Purposes for Work: 1) We work as God’s representatives 2) We work as an expression of love and worship of God 3) We work as a way to love others 4) We work for money, so we won’t be a burden 5) We work to adorn the gospel 6) We work for our enjoyment 7) We work as an act of faith

Work is a gift from God to us. It is an original part of God’s creation that allows us to image and glorify God while enjoying ourselves. Imagine the satisfaction you feel after completing a project that you have passionately worked on: that is what work was intended to be.

However, this ideal isn’t always true of our daily experiences. Rather than feeling the satisfaction of bringing order out of chaos, we feel the frustration of a chaotic workplace. And rather than seeing our work as worship, we see it as an arena that is immensely different from the worship that we do on Sundays. Why don’t our motivations resemble the picture in Genesis 1 and 2?

The short answer is Genesis 3. In essence, Adam and Eve were choosing to work for themselves, to prioritize what they thought was best over what God thought was best. Rather than representing God by cultivating the world as he would have them, they sought their own agenda and used the world for their purposes.

Work has never been the same since. As a result of the Fall, God cursed the ground and he cursed childbearing and childrearing (Genesis 3:16-19). Work in this world can be hard, painful, and tedious. It can also feel futile: you mow the grass today it grows back tomorrow.  You work hard to pass legislation this year, and next year, others come and undo what you spent time and money doing. Sin places a toll on our labor, and our work is limited in what it can accomplish, how long it lasts, and the satisfaction we can derive from it. “Meaningless, meaningless” was how Solomon described it in Ecclesiastes.

Not only does the Fall affect the actual action of work, it also affects our hearts, minds, and motivations in the classroom and workplace. Instead of doing things for the glory of God, we work for our own glory. In addition, our priorities and passions have been disordered, causing us to overvalue or undervalue the things we do every day.

Simply: we can either we make an idol of our work or we are idle at our work.  Continue reading