Here are the basic building blocks necessary for constructing a sound theological perspective on the topic of work:
Building Block #1: God is the original worker.
Building Block #2: We are uniquely designed for work.
Building Block #3: God gifts us for meaningful work.
Building Block #4: Work offers us an opportunity for healthy independence.
Building Block #5: Work enables us to meet the real needs of others.
Building Block #6: Work allows us to contribute to the common good.
Building Block #7: Work is not gender specific.
Building Block #8: Work must not become an idol.
Building Block #9: Work is a tool for ministry.
Here is a narrative definition of “Theology of Work” that incorporates these building blocks:
THEOLOGY OF WORK
The God of the Bible is a God who works. He is the Creator of the universe and it is an expression of His will. He created human beings to bear His image and reflect His glory in creation. As image-bearers, we have been called to work as well. It is a part of our unique design. In order to fulfill God’s desire for us to join Him in His work, He has given us the various gifts needed to accomplish this task.
As we engage ourselves in the meaningful labor available to us, we develop a healthy independence from others. This independence does not separate us or isolate us from the community of believers in particular or the society at large. In fact, just the opposite occurs! We are able to assist those who are dependent because of our healthy independence. We also can employ our gifts and skills to enhance the common good for all people. We can live in interdependent relationships that are beneficial to both us and those around us.
In God’s original design, men and women were created as co-rulers over His creation. Both men and women were given the responsibility of bearing His image and reflecting His glory in creation.
Work must not become an idol. Certainly work has intrinsic value and dignity since God has ordained it. However, it is not the ultimate force in our lives and we must not look to it for ultimate meaning and significance. Though work is not the absolute object of our affection, it can be an instrument for followers of Jesus for ministry. We can be used by God in our workplaces to share His love, further His kingdom and reflect His glory. Through our work we can minister to people and become agents of transformation in society.
-Dennis R. Wiles