Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion…
The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and keep it.
Genesis 1:26, 28; Genesis 2:15
Where is the church on Monday morning? We know that we gather as the church on Sunday mornings in order to worship God. But where is PCPC as we scatter throughout the rest of the week? The greater Dallas area consists of 10 or more employment centers including Downtown, Uptown, Las Colinas, Telecommunications Corridor, Legacy, and three hospital districts. On Monday morning, most of the 3,000 adult members of PCPC are scattered throughout and beyond these employment centers. Does God care about what happens in our work? Does the Bible have anything to say about our work?
God does indeed care about what happens in our work. Steve Garber has written that “Vocation is integral, not incidental, to the mission of God.” The Scriptures reveal God’s purposes for His people as they work for Him. He spells out His intentions for our work in the two creation narratives of Genesis 1 and 2. Genesis 1 gives us a macro view of work, while Genesis 2 provides a micro view. Genesis 1 spells out the who and what of our work, while Genesis 2 tells us the where and how.
The Bible presents God as a worker who creates, sustains, and redeems His world. Genesis 1 shows that men and women have been created in the image of God to partner with Him in shaping and developing His world. As image bearers we reflect His character of love and grace as we create beauty, promote justice, nurture His people, fix that which is broken, discover new technologies, and build productive economies that allow our fellow citizens to grow and to prosper. In humility we recognize that God does not need us to build His world, but He gives us the tremendous privilege of partnering with Him in establishing a sustainable, flourishing civilization. God cares about our work because through it and through us He is shaping and building our world.
In Genesis 2 God places the man in the Garden of Eden to work and keep it. In so doing man is given a specific responsibility in a specific context. In one of my many sojourns in the business world God placed me at the Trammell Crow Company. This was my garden. Gardening is hard work. It plants seeds waiting upon God to yield the harvest. It is a daily effort of bringing order out of chaos. My responsibility was to tend my garden, to bring order to it, and help it grow. My job was also to keep my garden, to protect and preserve its assets and reputation. In my six years at Trammell Crow, I held three different roles, but in each of them the specifics never changed. I was to grow and protect the business. As a manager and leader, I was to image God by bringing order out of chaos every day.
The Hebrew words translated work and keep are used together in another context—for the specific role of the priests as they labor in the temple of God. As we consider these important terms through that lens, it helps us to see the why of work—also as a primary place of worship where we are called to bring honor to the living God. We honor God as we serve Him in pursuing excellence in everything we do.
God cares about our work because it is a place wherein love for God (worship) and love for neighbor (creating a culture for human flourishing) are its fundamental purposes. God demonstrates His care when He calls each of us to a specific garden where we are to bring honor and glory to His name. When we image God as we work and tend our garden, we shape and build both the city and the culture. As God gathers us on Sunday mornings to bring honor and glory to His name, so also He scatters us Monday through Friday throughout the city in very specific callings and contexts. Each calling and each context is a sovereign assignment by God for His glory and the good of the city.
What is the why or purpose behind your work? Where is your garden? What are you called to do each day to work and keep your garden? In what ways do you reflect who you are as the image bearer of God in your work? How does your work contribute to the corporate health and well being of God’s world?
God has given us the privilege to partner with Him in creating, sustaining, and redeeming the gardens to which we have been sovereignly scattered and placed. May God establish the work of our hands.