If God’s a Worker, What Kind of Work Does He Do?
Let's be honest, some days it is hard to understand what our jobs or daily activities have to do with God's redemptive work or plan or purpose. There is a small percentage of folks who have jobs that neatly fit the categories we can easily conjure up like ministry related work, pastors, missionaries, etc. However, for the rest of us at times it can be a struggle. Russell Gehrlein in his blog for the Institute of Faith, Work, & Economics, helps us to better understand the significance of our work. What a difference it would make to recall on our tough days our purpose and place in God's plan. The article below should better prepare us for our next hard day.
Beyond his work in creation, what kinds of work does God do today?
God Does Different Types of Work
Amy Sherman, in her book Kingdom Calling, shares a concept of God as our vocational model, which she credits to author Robert Banks from his book Faith Goes to Work. Banks describes the different kinds of work that God does and how our human vocations can fit into this model:
- Redemptive work: God’s saving and reconciling actions
- Creative work: God’s fashioning of the physical and human world
- Providential work: God’s provision for and sustaining of humans and the creation
- Justice work: God’s maintenance of justice
- Compassionate work: God’s involvement in comforting, healing, guiding, and shepherding
- Revelatory work: God’s work to enlighten with truth
The Ways and Means of God’s Work
So, how does God carry out this work today? Sometimes he works supernaturally. For example, he does redemptive and revelatory work through his Holy Spirit, in revealing our sin and leading us to Christ. However, it is also true that God has chosen to use human beings, both believers and nonbelievers, to do this work.
With respect to God’s redemptive work, Sherman identifies people who do this type of work as,
…evangelists, pastors, counselors, and peacemakers. So do writers, artists, producers, songwriters, poets, and actors who incorporate redemptive elements in their stories, novels, songs, films, performances and other works.
This makes me think about the song “Three Wooden Crosses” by Randy Travis, which has a redemptive theme. Through the song’s lyrics, Travis puts a spotlight on the life-changing ability of God’s word. He sings about four people who were in a bus accident: “a farmer and a teacher, a hooker and a preacher.” Four were on the bus, but only one lived—the preacher. We learn that it was the prostitute who had the Bible the preacher gave her as he lay dying and that she raised her son with her newfound faith in Jesus Christ so that he could later become a preacher himself.
In all these various ways, God the Father continues his creative, sustaining, and redeeming work through our human labor. This gives our work great dignity and purpose.