How was your understanding of work formed? Many of us base our understanding of work on a theological misconception. Anyone who has tuned in to the Biblical echo in Western culture remembers something about the ground being cursed, and the labor of Adam along with it.
True, it is. In Genesis 3:17 God says to Adam
“Cursed is the ground because of you;
through painful toil you will eat food from it
all the days of your life.”
Yet, few recognize that before the Fall, God had created Adam and Eve for the very purpose of tilling the ground. God, the Creator, had done all this amazing work and set in motion this fantastic Creation. Creation was teeming with life and carried within it the ability to produce fruits and vegetables. God then created mini-creators, (you and me), to take the raw material of Creation and set the materials of this world, – soil, water, sunlight – in a fruitful direction.
Imagine if the Fall hadn’t happened. Humanity would still work. God intended and designed us for work. True, our work would be without thorns and thistles. Imagine your workplace without conflict, gossip, decisions motivated by fear, or anxiety-producing deadlines.
Christ died for our sins to cure the noetic effects of the Fall, and thus secures our salvation. It is, likewise true that Christ’s sacrificial death and resurrection was for the whole of Creation. Through Christ all Creation is restored to the idyllic bliss of Eden. Through Christ even our work is restored, and we will once again work without toil, thorns, or the aspects of our job that bring stress and depression.
Christians live in the tension between the already, but not yet; otherwise known as inaugurated eschatology. Christ has already conquered death for all and reigns supreme in heaven. But, He has not yet returned and established His kingdom on earth. (called the New Jerusalem in the Bible.) The church is called to live in this in-between state: the time between the empty tomb and Christ’s triumphant return. The good news is, in this already-but not-yet-tension our work is both fallen, and directed towards redemptive purposes.