“Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
Jesus’ choice of the twelve disciples communicates a very important message to us about our daily work. When Jesus called his twelve disciples, he did not choose priests: he chose fisherman and tax collectors… people from the working world. The apostle Paul was a tent-maker. Jesus himself worked as a carpenter.
Our work matters.
At the heart of God’s purpose for us is the work we do every day. Work is much more than simply a necessary activity for paying the bills and keeping a roof over our head and food on the table. The job we do every day—whether at school, at home, or in an organization in the marketplace—is of primary importance to the purpose of God in and through our life.
As we move deeper into the 21st century, there is a great need to better understand the role of work in the life of a Christian and the role of the Christian at work. It is time for the church to recognize and respond to the strategic importance of the workplace and to equip Christians to be effective, high impact agents of the kingdom of God in the world of work.
What is my purpose? is a common—and deeply important—question that everyone asks. The bible gives a clear (and, to some people, surprising) answer: One of the central purposes of our life is to work. More specifically, to work in relationship to and as agents of God who created us. God gets glory when we do good work.
Another way to say it is that we were created to be priests over creation. God’s plan was to establish his kingdom on planet earth by ruling through man. God created man in his image and gave man dominion over the earth. The dominion mandate in Genesis means that we were created to be the stewards and managers of God’s creation. And that means doing work.
As agents and stewards of God’s creation, the Lord placed us in the world to work in it and on it, and it is our responsibility to offer the world back to God as an offering in praise—a world shaped by our gifts and transformed by our labor. In doing this work, we imitate God. We look like our Maker. Work is part of what it means to bear and reflect the very image of the Creator.
It is worth noting that other philosophies also recognize that man is designed to work. Consider this quote from Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor in the 2nd Century AD and a follower of the Stoic philosophy:
“At dawn, when you have trouble getting out of bed, tell yourself: “I have to go to work—as a human being. What do I have to complain of, if I’m going to do what I was born for—the things I was brought into the world to do? Or is this what I was created for? To huddle under the blankets and stay warm?” So you were born to feel “nice”? Instead of doing things and experiencing them? Don’t you see the plants, the birds, the ants and spiders and bees going about their individual tasks, putting the world in order, as best they can? And you’re not willing to do your job as a human being? Why aren’t you running to do what your nature demands? You don’t love yourself enough. Or you’d love your nature too, and what it demands of you.”
Work is an essential part of life in Christ. As followers of Jesus we have the image of God restored in us, which enables us to fulfill the commandment to have dominion. Work is a primary way that God expresses his life in us and through us.
Do good work and glorify the God who created you, redeemed you, and calls you into relationship with Him.