April 17, 2019 • Life for Leaders
God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
We were created for work. And work as God intended it was to be good. As creatures made in God’s image, we were to do the good work of being fruitful, multiplying, filling the earth, governing it, tilling it, and caring for it.
But then something happened to corrupt the goodness of work. Sin happened. Human beings chose to seek their own good rather than God’s goodness. Through sin, the world became warped, with work caught in the ungodly twisting. A primary result of sin was the corruption of work. Yes, human beings would still work, fulfilling their created purpose. But now their work would be filled with pain, sweat, and struggle. All of us know something of this reality. Some of us feel the brokenness of work every single day.
When it comes to work, therefore, the cross of Christ makes a great difference. Now if you tend to think of Christ’s death as bringing only personal salvation or as delivering us out of this world, then what I just said won’t make much sense. But if you think of Christ’s work in light of the whole the biblical story, if you understand his death as the central piece of God’s plan to restore all things, then you can begin to see how the cross makes a difference for our work.
Because of the cross, the day will come when creation is restored and renewed. In that day, we will experience work as God intended it to be. That is part of our future hope in Christ. Yet, as is the case whenever we talk about God’s future, through Christ we begin to experience the future today, however incompletely. Thus, as it says in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” This new creation touches everything, including our daily work.
Thus, as we reflect upon the meaning of the cross during Holy Week, let us consider how our experience of salvation through Christ might make a difference in our work.
Something to Think About:
In what ways do you see the cross of Christ as relevant to your work?
If because of the cross you have been reconciled to God, what difference might this make in your work life?
Do you think we will work in God’s future? Why or why not? If you think we will work, how do you envision our work?
Something to Do:
As you go about your work, put a small cross somewhere you can see it. It could simply be a cross drawn on a sticky note. The point is not to display this cross to your officemates. Rather, this cross is meant to remind you that the death of Jesus matters for your work. As you do your work today, do it as an expression of gratitude for Christ’s sacrifice.
Gracious God, thank you for the cross. Thank you for taking our sin through the death of Christ. Thank you for acting in Christ to forgive us, renew us, and restore us. Thank you for the fact that if we are in Christ, there is a new creation. Thank you for the privilege of experiencing this new creation now, however incompletely.
O God, even as our work reflects the stain of sin, may it also begin to receive the grace of salvation. May the renewing, reconciling work of Christ be experienced in our workplaces. And may those of us who know you through Christ live each day so that Christ is glorified in all we do and say. Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary:
The Work of the “Creation Mandate” (Genesis 1:28, 2:15)
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.