Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

Why Work? 5

We finish up today our series on Darrell Cosden’s fine book, The Heavenly Good of Earthly Work. If you are looking for a book that “justifies” work, this is it — and I think we need more of us thinking more deeply about this subject and we definitely need more preaching and church instruction on “work.”
Genesis 1-11 contributes to a theology of work:
1. In ordinary work, we are God’s apprentices, God’s co-workers.
2. Work is not all there is to life.
3. Imaging God physically — this is our destiny and our identity.
4. We live in a world that is redeemed and yet not fully redeemed.
Cosden emphasize God’s judgment, but that judgment is not annihilationist but “transformative” so that we and our work are purged and transformed into something useful for eternity.
Here are three great quotations:
“it is largely (though not exclusively) through our work that we reflect God’s image and co-operate with him in bringing people and the whole creation to humanity’s and nature’s ultimate maturity and future” (129-130).
“Mission is the work (God’s work) for everyone created to be in God’s image and indeed therefore for the whole people of God” (135-136).
“Work is the mission (God’s mission) for everyone created to be in God’s image and indeed therefore for the whole people of God” (136).

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posted April 30, 2008 at 5:52 am

This has been an interesting set of posts, as work is where most of us spend most of our lives, and yet what “work” is has been distorted by the fallen world.
The parable of the talents would seem to tell us that we should produce profit–or abundance or fruit–from our work. The questions then become: do we define the profits primarily in terms of money? What are the other fruits? And are we expected to hoard the profits or sow them widely? The last question is, of course, rhetorical, but the question is how do we sow our profits, as acts of exuberance, such as throw dollars out on the street, might not be the best? And what abundance are we losing when we work wholly for money and not for other rewards?
I went to the site on bartering services. I’d read about this system about 16 years ago and was glad to see it is still alive and well. I was sorry to see, however, that strictly from a monetary point of view, I would “lose” from such a barter system: in other words, I can buy more with monetary earnings from my work than I would get the way the bartering is structured. Yet I wouldn’t think so transactionally (what’s in it for me) were I in relationship with the people with whom I was bartering, and, in fact, it wouldn’t feel like a barter. Much to think about! How we bring relationship into our transactions?

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posted April 30, 2008 at 12:39 pm

I am still processing this whole thing myself. But I do think that we have to reorient ourselves to intentionally living within both economies — monetary and core — rather than one or the other.
Where we can, we need to invest in the core economy because it builds community and strengthens relationships and provides an opportunity to value the contributions of everyone. It is the whole “buying local” way of being organic.
But we must also consider how our involvement in the money economy enables us to invest in the core economy. This is where I see a tremendous opportunity for stewardship of life to have more influence as well as more restraint and balance concerning “consumerism.”
…the parable of the talents always comes to mind when I think of this! And the Jesus Creed teaches us to love God with ALL so that we can love our neighbors as ourselves.
…and while I’m thinking along these lines, this way of thinking may cause more Christian communities/churches to look around them and see leadership qualities in those not normally recognized that way. I believe that “organic church” means that more leaders will be “locally grown” rather than imported. And this needs to lead toward more and better teaching and equipping of the local Body so that all the members can mature and be knit together as One.
…I’ll stop there! 8) Thanks for the brain charge today, you two!

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posted April 30, 2008 at 8:03 pm

I agree with you, especially about the locally-grown leadership! And after writing what I did, I realized that my husband and I had just accepted a job offer (for him) that has been based in part on barter! In exchange for giving up some monetary salary, we will be given a house to live in free of charge, utilities, phone and meals. And we gain community.

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posted April 30, 2008 at 11:22 pm

Congratulations, Diane, on your new endeavor with barter and community. It seems like you life has been in transition for a while … keep me up on what you’re doing, if you get a chance. You can drop me a note any time over at my blog….

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