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Pathways – Bearing God’s image at work

Categories: Pathways

There are many who believe that work is a burden that has been laid on us as a result of the fall. Paradise, for some people, would be a place devoid of all work. But this isn’t the picture that we are given in the opening book of the Bible. Here we discover that after man was created in God’s image he was placed in the garden to work (there was also rest, as we discovered back in September). Genesis 2:15 tells us that Adam and Eve were put in the “Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” This wasn’t the result of the fall but a result of our being made in God’s image.

Did you know God works? Genesis 2:2 tells us “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing.” And Jesus says “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too, am working.” (John 5:17) There should be no question about the goodness of work. God works. Work is good.

The question we should be asking as Christians is, “Am I reflecting the image of God in my work?” Paul put it like this when he wrote to the Colossians “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” (3:23)

In the late 1980’s Mikhail Gorbachev became the eighth and last leader of the Soviet Union. As president he introduced sweeping changes to the communist society and part of that was the lifting of persecution of Christians. Joseph Stowell asked a Russian pastor why he thought Gorbachev had put a stop to the oppression. He replied that at the time, the major problem facing Russia was its faltering economy. Much of the trouble, he explained, was due to absenteeism, alcoholism, and non-productivity in the work force. Gorbachev reportedly told Russian leaders, “Why do we oppress the very people who do not absent themselves from work, who are not alcoholics and who give us a productive day’s work? We need their strength.” 1

What do you think motivated the Christian workers in Soviet Russia to perform their tasks with diligence even in the face of persecution and oppression? Only one answer seems to make sense. They wanted to reflect the reality of Christ in their lives. Their devotion to their master was such that they could not imagine offering him anything less than their best. As a result, they demonstrated to the world what God was like and their work places were transformed.

Wouldn’t it transform your attitude toward work if you realized that what you were doing from Monday to Friday really mattered to God? If you fully understood that you were God’s image bearer at work wouldn’t your motivation toward work change? I think it would. If you worked like that, then it is possible that someone would see Christ through the work that you do and their life would be transformed by his grace.

Work is not an evil burden put on us as a result of the fall. It is a gracious gift through which we are to demonstrate what God is like as his image bearers.

Working with you for his glory,

Tom.


1. Joseph Stowell, The Dawn’s Early Light. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1990), 25.