Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Blessing of Work

Do you ever feel like you have too much work to do?  Like you just need a chance to relax?  I think we all feel like that sometimes.  It is easy to think of work as the enemy, or at least as an annoying necessity that you try to get through so you can get to "real life."

 But, what if real life is really work?

Rory, hard at work!
We here in the U.S. live in a pretty easy age in a pretty easy country.  We have tons of leisure time, as a nation.  And we use it.  We spend many hours and much money entertaining ourselves.  And we feel put-out if we don't have our "me-time."

But, what if we're not meant to have it easy?

Is it possible to be happy and working at the same time?  Is it possible to be content if we have no "down-time" from the time we get up until the time we go to sleep?  Is it possible that we're setting our kids up for a life of disillusionment?

I think we've missed the boat.  Work is not evil.  It is a gift of God.

Genesis 2:15
And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden to dress it and to keep it.

Adam was put in the garden of Eden to work!  He had a job to do!  We tend to think of the garden of Eden as a paradise, where everything was done, and all Adam had to do was sit around eating grapes.  It seems that if he was to eat the grapes, he had to do something toward taking care of them.  And Eve was created to help him.  Not to sit around looking pretty.  So God planned all along that people would work.  The popular "Paleo diet" uses as its premise that we shouldn't be eating anything that the ancient people didn't eat.  Well, it seems to me that the first man and the first woman were created to be farmers.  As if the garden wasn't going to continue being beautiful and fruitful all by itself. 

I think some of our hatred of work comes from the result of sin.   

Genesis 3:17-19
And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it:  cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field:  in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread...

The lie of the serpent and the sin of the man and the woman made work hard.  Our sin continues to do so.  And I think it is because we work for the wrong reasons.  We're trying to get ahead, or make the rent, or save up enough to retire.  Maybe we're trying to put bread on the table, or to send our kids to college, or to buy a bigger house, or to make a better life for ourselves, or to escape the life we have by avoiding it.  The problem is that all of reasons have the same root.  Me.  The same reason Adam and Eve ate the fruit.  To be like God.  To know good and evil.  To not need anybody else, including or especially God.  

Trying to do anything in life aside from God is a sure path to failure, and that includes work.  Taking God away from work puts it into the "bad" column.  Instead of the blessing it was meant to be, it becomes a curse.  But it doesn't have to be.  There is a way to bring back the blessing.

Colossians 3:22-24
 Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God; And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance:  for ye serve the Lord Christ. 
If only we can teach this to our children!  If they can see us joyfully carrying out the duties of this life as a service to the Lord, not grudgingly as an evil that must be endured, but as a blessing of our Heavenly Father, and as a way of worshiping God!  Oh, to believe it ourselves!  Can't you see how working this way would eliminate the need for "me-time" or "down-time" or "leisure-time?"  It would all be Joy-Time!  It would put us perpetually in the presence of Jesus - and Jesus calls himself the Lord of the Sabbath.  He is our rest
Matthew 11:28-30
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart:  and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. 
Did you read that?  That was Jesus talking.  It's an invitation.  Not to a life of hardness and pain, but one of lightness and rest.  People tend to either believe that being a Christian makes your life easy, because God does everything for you, or that it takes away all the fun in life.  Neither is true.  Jesus won't suddenly fill up your bank account so you can retire, but he will give you the strength to do the work you were created to do.  And following Jesus won't take away all of your fun.  It will open your eyes to the joy that is all around you.  And it will expose that "fun" for the sin that it really is.  Because unless there's something wrong with it, why would following God take it away from you?  He wants you to be happy and content.  That is why he put Adam and Eve in that beautiful garden to begin with. I believe that they were meant to expand that garden to cover the Earth, along with their offspring.

Sin came in, and corrupted the earth along with the people on it.  But God was not finished.  He has provided a way back for us.  And He has provided a beautiful place for us to live.
Isaiah 65:17-25
For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth:  and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.  But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create:  for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy.  And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people:  and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying.  There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days:  for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed.  And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them.  They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat:  for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.  They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them.  And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.  The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock:  and dust shall be the serpent's meat.  They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the LORD. 
Can you see it?  Can you believe it?  You can begin to live it now.   Jesus came to show us the way.  Away from the curse, and back to the blessing.  And he has promised to come back to finish the work his Father started.

Let not your heart be troubled:  ye believe in God, believe also in me.  In my Father's house are many mansions:  if it were not so, I would have told you.  I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
 We just have to believe, and then live like we believe.  And joyfully do the work that is set before us.

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