GENESIS 1:1, 26-31
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
So God created man in his own image,
And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
Why do we work? What makes our work mean something? The answers to these questions depend on how we see our work and what perspective we attach to it. Some see work as a story of achievement, about making a name for ourselves. Others see work as a story of accumulation, that work is a means to comfort. And others see it as making the world a better place, as a means of salvation.
Many people, without much thought, think of the story of work as beginning with Adam and Eve being sent out of the Garden of Eden and that it will end when Jesus returns. Sadly, that storyline tends to paint work in a negative light. The true story of work begins well before the garden, far before Adam and Eve rebelled and went their own way, and this very story will continue into the restoration of all things.
So we begin at Genesis 1, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”
The story of work doesn’t begin with us, it begins with God. God is a worker. The first two chapters of Genesis, we’re told 7 times that God created; twelve different times that He made something. All of this creating and making are God’s handiwork.
He created heavens, earth, water, sun, land, trees, vegetation, birds of the air, creatures in the sea, and animals that roam the land. This is God’s work, creating and making. This pattern of creation was ex nihilo, Latin for “out of nothing”. Prior to this creation, there was nothing. He did not make the universe from preexisting building blocks. He made it from scratch, from nothing.
Uniquely in all of creation, we are made differently. Humans have been made in the image of God verse 27 states. It is a different pattern than how the rest of creation was made. We see that the rest of creation was made out of nothing, and then man and woman come along. With Adam, God begins with dust, shaping it into the form of a man and breathing life into him. With Eve, He again takes something else he’d made, Adam’s rib, and transforms it into something new. Here He has made image bearers to carry on His work, to create, organize, cultivate and care for His creation.
God Continues to Work
As God’s image bearers, we continue His work through “ruling over His creation”. God gives us the job “to fill the earth and subdue it” and to “rule over” it (Gen 1:28). There
As we marvel at His brilliant creativity, we also recognize our responsibility to care for His creation. We reflect the very nature of God when we subdue and rule over His creation. God is clearly King over His creation, and we are His representatives, His image bearers. We see, at the end of Genesis chapter 1, that only at this point when humans had been made, had been blessed and were placed in charge of creation, that God says “it was very good and He rested”. We see once it was finished, that “God rested from all of his work that he had done in creation” (Gen 2:3).
God In and Through Our Work
We see in Genesis chapter 2 the nature of the work God has given come into sharper focus. Adam was to care for the garden, causing it to grow and flourish, to guard it, and protect it from anything that could spoil or harm it. This is important because the work God gave Adam and Eve is the paradigm for all human work.
The Garden of Eden is the place God designed for human flourishing. And there’s nothing like it on earth anymore. It was home, where they would live out their marriage and raise their family. It was temple, where they would meet with God. It was workplace, where they engaged in the productive labor God gave them. You and I have never experienced what they did: a world in which the divisions and conflicts of interest between church and workplace and family didn’t exist.
Their work was to take all that God had given them and make it flourish, make it grow, protect it and nurture it. They would do this because they were created in the image of God. Just as God created, they were to create. Just as God ordered and managed, they were to order and manage. Just as God created a fruitful and flourishing world, they were to protect and advance that flourishing and fruitfulness.
Their job was to take what God had begun and carry it on - to show off His glory. The point wasn’t to see how well they could do their job to get recognition; it was to cause God to be glorified and revealed through their work. As image bearers, everything we do is meant to glorify and reveal who God is.
The original purpose of human work was the advancement of human flourishing to the glory of God. This is as much true today as it was then. Our work, in whatever sphere we operate, is to show off the goodness and magnificence of his character as His image bearers. We do that as we cultivate the garden we’ve been entrusted with, for the flourishing of the humans around us, to the praise of God’s glory.
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).
May Our Work Reflect Who Our God Is
This week, as you reflect on the message, utilize this section to help you apply what has been taught to your life. Think of friends, co-workers, neighbors, family etc., that you could meet with to have a time of mutual sharing to discuss the implications of the message.
This simple acronym (BLESS, B - Bless, L - Listen, E - Eat, S - Speak, S - Sabbath) should help you to frame your life according to the great commandment “love God” (Matthew 22:37) and the expression of that commandment in loving your neighbor (John 13:34). Each time you meet, start by discussing the rhythms of your life according to B.L.E.S.S.
Intentionally bless: Christ-followers, non-believers and those different than you.
Listen to what God is saying to you, through His Word and others.
Share a meal with a Christ-follower and also a non-believer.
Talk to God through prayer and to others about Jesus through witness.
Be intentional about taking time to both rest and recreate.
Read:Genesis 1:1, 26-31
An Examined Life
As we continue to reflect on the sermon, allow these questions to guide your discussion with others concerning the conviction points and what you sensed God’s Spirit was doing in you through the preached Word. Jot notes to help you remember.
What was God doing in you through the message on Sunday?
Describe how you’ve grown in your understanding of the Gospel?
How are you going to respond to God’s Word in your life?