Sunday, May 20, 2007

Whistle While You Work #11: Created to Create

The last several “work” posts were about loving our neighbor through our work. Now we’re looking at how our work matters to God. Sometimes we may be tempted to think of the Garden of Eden as something like an extended vacation kind of like a resort. Adam & Eve would hop in the lake, swim to the floating bar, take a nap, and generally loaf. As good as that sounds, it’s not so. It is true that the toil and frustration of work is due to the fall of Adam and Eve in Genesis 3, but Genesis 1-2 are clear that they were to work the garden before any sin entered into our world.

The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. (Genesis 2.15)
God created the universe “very good,” but He didn’t create a garden that was 100% complete. It was good, but God created a world in which we are partners as His image bearers. We don’t do it from nothing like He did, but we create nonetheless.

We do it because we are created to be like God, we’re created in His image. Dorothy Sayers once wrote: “Man, made in God’s image, should make things, as God makes them, for the sake of doing well a thing that is well worth doing” (Working: Its Meaning and Its Limits, p. 43). The opening chapters of Genesis show us God is real, He is powerful, and He is creative. Our creativity is one expression of us being like God – and it is partnership with Him – as His stewards.

Think about that. Talk about value. You are being used of God to make this world, where people experience who God is and His goodness, a better place. As history moves forward, work has been used to make this world a better place, when the creativity is used well. The wheel. The printing press. Medicine. Electricity. The computer. These things are expressions, through the work of people, of what is called God’s common grace. It is grace extended to all people regardless of whether they follow God or not. It doesn’t save, but it is an expression of God’s goodness and generosity to all people.

Thank God for good engineers who build bridges and airplanes that we can see more of God’s world, or stay close to family that lives far away. And it isn’t just functionality. God uses people to stir hearts by creating musical instruments or drama and film that inspires and challenges people, giving an echo of God’s beauty and creativity. More simply, God gave us these “taste buds” on our tongues. Thank God for ice cream and tri-tip that we might enjoy the goodness of God in such a simple way. The world is a better place as we create within God’s creation, particularly when people responsibly enjoy God’s goodness.

Whistle while you work! Your work matters. You’re partnering with God in making His goodness known to people.

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