Part Two - Summoned and Equipped by God: Chapter 5 - Doing the Lord's Work
Work in the Bible
Stevens gives a cursory overview of the idea of “work” from scripture. He catalogs a number of metaphors that describe God as a worker including builder/architect, teacher, composer and performer, metalworker, garment maker and dresser, potter, farmer, shepherd, tentmaker and camper. He highlights the fact that, according to Genesis 2:15, “…the world was not made for human beings; human beings were made for the world.” (113). The nature of work has been corrupted because of human rebellion, but the vocation human beings being created for work and created for the world is still exists.
Stevens says that based on his read of scripture, “There is not deprecation of manual labor in the Bible, no exalting of ‘creative work’ over manual labour.” (115) The Wisdom literature points to the futility in finding ultimate satisfaction through work but it does value work that is that is done with the context of a relationship with God. Where we begin to the devaluation of labor is with writers in the intertestamental period like Ben Sira who had become heavily influenced by Greek values.
In the gospels, Jesus is portrayed as a carpenter or an artisan worker. While there is little said directly in relation to work Stevens suggests that “work,” that which we do in our daily lives, becomes transformed into to work for the kingdom of God as we accept Jesus Christ and Lord. Paul builds on this theme as well. How we conduct ourselves in the transactions of daily living and work today have an impact on others and on eternal matters.
Finally, Stevens points out that not only will we receive our reward in heaven but we will also receive more work. We were made for communion, community and co-creativity. In the New Creation, all of these will be fully restored.