Lesson 11: Labor
For all the complaining we do about the fact that we have to work, it is an eye-opener to many of us to be reminded that work, and its cousin creativity, is rooted in the character of God himself. The Bible begins with a description of the creative work of God -- and the result of that work is described as being "very good." If it was OK for God Almighty to work, we might want to reconsider our collective disdain for the concept.
The truth is that, contrary to the culture's point of view, work is not a "four-letter-word". Work was not a punishment given to Adam & Eve after their fall. God had already demonstrated that work was honorable and valuable. The fall did not bring work into existence, it merely increased the nature of work to make it more burdensome. We brought that on ourselves.
With that in mind, the Biblical concept of work is that we should view our labor as another way to reflect the Imago Deo. It should be done with a grateful, humble attitude. It should be done with eagerness and excellence. It should be done with dignity and respect for our fellow workers, supervisors, and business owners. But, most importantly, it should be done to honor the God whose example we aim to follow. As J. S. Bach signed his symphonies, so we should sign our worldly labor, SDG: Soli Deo Gloria -- "For the Glory of God Alone."
In other words, the negative view we have of work is solely a human creation and yet another example of the way in which the culture serves to corrupt the divine design -- another skirmish in the "cosmic battle." Rather than a obstacle to our constant pursuit personal pleasure, Dr. Tackett exhorts us to see work as the method by which we reflect divine creativity, and the primary means by which we care for the poor.
Where the world teaches us that "he who dies with the most toys win," we should see labor as the means to manage property that ultimately belongs to God. Where the culture uses creativity to propagate false philosophies in literature, film, music and other forms of art, we should see our creativity as a way to worship and inspire others with beauty that has its source in the divine. Where the culture has twisted the connection between God and man, the task of the Christian artist is to twist it back.
If it is true, as the Christian worldview demands, that there is no separation between the sacred and the secular, our labor is the practical, physical way that we make that connection real.