In this lesson, we will introduce the idea of developing a “theology of work.” The foundational principle will be centered upon the truth that work matters to God. God is the original worker. The Bible opens with God at work. He is not an idle deity. The dignity and intrinsic value of work is rooted in the fact that God has revealed Himself as one who Himself works! This lesson offers the students the opportunity to begin to think differently about work. The teacher/facilitator can lead a discussion with the class members about developing a greater appreciation for work based upon the fact that God is the original role model for all laborers.
“Biblical narratives overflow with work. Between the opening lines of Genesis, which portray God as a worker, and the closing chapter of Revelation, with a vision of new creation, God labors. One of the distinguishing characteristics of biblical faith is that God does not sit enthroned in heaven removed from work, willing things into existence by divine fiat. Unlike the gods of the Greco-Roman mythologies, who absolve themselves of work (or make work a punishment for troublesome persons, e.g., Sisyphus) dining on nectar and ambrosia heavenly rest and contemplation – the biblical God works.”
-D.H. Jenson, Responsive Labor: A Theology of Work (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2006), p. 22
Genesis 1; Psalm 8
The Bible opens with God at work. God created the heavens and the earth. And – on the 7th day, He “rested from all His work.” God Himself is the original worker – and He has created human beings in His image. Consequently, work has not only been sanctioned by God – He serves as an eternal example of the dignity of work! In other words, work matters to God!
WEEKLY READINGS OVERVIEW
This Bible contains many examples of people who are “at work.” Interestingly, God is portrayed in various roles that reveal His work. In this regard, the Bible often contains metaphors to help us understand the nature of our God. For example, He is portrayed as a shepherd, gardener, creator, law-giver, potter, physician, etc. These metaphors are taken from the world of work that is all too familiar to human beings. As you read the texts this week, notice the roles God plays and how they reveal truths about His nature and character. Notice that Jesus said His Father is still at work and that He is working as well. Reflect this week on how these truths about God can shape your understanding of your own work life.
ISSUES/QUESTIONS TO ADDRESS