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Finding Business as Mission in the Book of Genesis

By Matt Larsen - A friend here in Dallas, Matt Larsen, recently wrote a post about the Biblical basis of work found in Genesis. You can read more about Matt and his wife Lauren here.

"Now no shrub had yet appeared on the earth and no plant had yet sprung up, for the LORD God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no one to work the ground ... The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it." - Moses in Genesis 2.5 and 2.15. A couple observations:

There are no plants or shrubs on the ground yet. Moses gives two reasons why this is so. First, the LORD God had not sent rain. This is His part of the process. Second, the LORD God has no created a man to work the ground yet. This, in a roundabout way, is our part of the process (different order than Genesis 1; i.e. humans before vegetation). If we are honest with this text, what we see here is that the LORD God intends to create man to cooperate with him in creation. God will bring about plants and shrubs on the ground, and the means by which he will do it is through sending water and creating a human to work the ground. We are called to cooperate with God in creating and shaping this world, through our work. (NB - I do not mean that we create in the same sense that God creates. We are a part of creation called to cooperate with God in the continuing creation process)

Moses tells us that the reason that the LORD God placed the man in the garden was two-fold: to work and to maintain. Think about that: the garden, free from the disease of sin, required work and maintain. This seems to imply that it was not all that it could be yet (in need of work) and had the potential to fall into disarray (in need of maintenance).

Does this blow your mind a little? I think most of us never thought of the garden of Eden that way. But, if you allow the words of Moses to speak for themselves, this is what the text seems to be saying.Work is not a part of the present sinful world. Work is part of what it means to be human. God created humans to be workers. What's more, G0d gifted us with the privilege of partnering with Him in the creation and shaping of His good creation.

What an honor! Every person was created to work. That's why we all eventually get tired of being on vacation. That's why I heard a couple people from MERGE say to me, "Yeah, my Christmas break was good, but I actually ready to get back to work/class." And really, we all know this anyway. Remember how good it feels to know that you nailed that assignment your boss or teacher gave you? You and I both like to work hard and accomplish something worthwhile. Sin often thwarts our efforts ("Cursed is the ground because of you ... It will produce thorns and thistles for you" - Genesis 3.17), but, nevertheless, we need to work.

You were created by God to work. What's more, you were created to accomplish a special task. What did God create you to do? What work did God purpose you to do? Are you doing that? We need to learn to see our work, not as necessary part of a sinful, broken world, but as part of what it means to be a human. We need to learn to creatively express ourselves through our work, just as God did in His.

For most of you, you're probably reading this at work (even if your work entails mothering a child), I hope that this post serves as an inspiration to your work day. Go be Genesis 2 people! Co-partner with God in creating and shaping His good creation! Figure out how your job plays a part in that! Focus on the goodness of your job (i.e. how does your job benefit the human race?)Go be a worker! Go be a human!

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posted by Justin Forman | 5.19.2009 - 6:51 AM

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