The Place of Work in Our Lives

John Telgren

Most of us are probably familiar with the term, "The Great Commission." It is the phrase, or title, that we use to refer to the mission Jesus passed on to his disciples in Matthew 28:19-20, Mark 16:15, John 20:21, and Luke 24:45-48; Acts 1:8. Many will point to this and say this is our purpose on this earth. We are agents of God to bring the message of redemption to a world that is badly in need of it.

I would like to pose a question. What was our purpose from the beginning of creation? It couldn't have been for the purpose of redemption and salvation, there was no need for this.

In the beginning, God created humans in his own image (Gen 1:26). He placed man in his garden to tend it (Gen 2:15). He was to care for the world that God had created. God's instructions to man were to: 1) Be fruitful and multiply 2) Fill the earth 3) Subdue it and rule over it 4) Do not eat of the tree in the middle of the garden.

Mankind, made in the image of God, was to fill the earth and rule over it in the likeness of God. Out of this would grow culture, social institutions, and scientific inquiry. All of this was supposed to be in service to God. The culture mankind was to create was to be a reflection of God. Whether it was art, music, science, harnessing of energies, medicine, building projects, government, psychology, education, etc., it was all to be in service to and in honor of God.

This was mankind's purpose in the beginning. Some people now refer to this as the "Cultural Mandate." God gives clear principles and guidance concerning culture and social institutions. The need for this did not go away when sin came into the world. In fact, the need became even greater as history has shown. Without God's guiding principles, culture and social institutions tend to become oppressive and immoral and do not honor God.

All Christians have a part to play in both the Great Commission and the Cultural Mandate. With respect to the Great Commission, we serve others in the name of Christ, share the Gospel of Christ, and welcome newly converted and baptized believers into the family of God. This transforms not only our moral character, but also our understanding of how we are to relate to the world around us. Our participation in public life is for the service of God. Our jobs are not merely for the purpose of making a paycheck, but are part of a much larger picture.

Many centuries ago, a man named Martin Luther got it right when he said, "The maid who sweeps her kitchen is doing the will of God . . . not because she may sing a Christian hymn as she sweeps but because God loves clean floors. The Christian shoemaker does his Christian duty not by putting little crosses on the shoes, but by making good shoes, because God is interested in good craftsmanship."

Everyone, whether the engineer, the janitor, the repairman, the teacher, the operator, etc., has a place in the Cultural Mandate. Your work is service to God not just by being a person of character on the job, or sharing the Gospel with your co-workers, but the work itself is service to God. This was God's design and intent from the very beginning. There is a God-given inherent value and dignity to work.