Work in our culture has fallen upon hard times. The Opinion Research Corporation of America states that
more workers are dissatisfied with their work now than at any time in recent years.
If there is in our culture a growing sense of discontent with one's work, it's equally true that in our churches
there is a disquieting silence about work. Studies tell us that the overwhelming percentage of American
workers who attend church feel they derive little, if any help from their churches when it comes to work.
This scenario is sad for two reasons. First, it seems to have forgotten hat God is a worker and derives great
satisfaction from his work. Second, it tends to ignore that human beings were created to be co-workers with
Regarding the first problem, the Bible goes to great lengths to portray God as a manual laborer who works
with his hands. In Isaiah 45, the Creator is elbow deep in clay as a potter fashioning heaven and earth. And
in the New Testament was not Jesus, God's Son, a carpenter?
But even more important, we were created to be workers. Work is not the result of Adam and Eve's sin, it is
a part of the creation mandate. Before the fall, Adam was placed in the Garden, and charged to take care of
it. After the fall, work was not declared to be evil, only difficult. This is a "do-it-yourself" world.
Seeds have to be planted. Trees have to be logged. Metals have to be mined. Computers have to be
programmed. Dishes have to be washed. Kids have to be diapered. It all adds up to work.
On this Labor Day weekend, we would do well to re-examine our attitudes toward work. What is its
meaning? What is its value?
Through work, we authenticate our humanness. In the creation account, we discover that the garden
preceded the gardener. It's as if to say before God had a person for the job, he had a job for the person. If
we are busy rather than idle and creative rather than destructive, we are affirming our humannes and
demonstrating that we are indeed what God created us to be.
Through work, we learn the meaning of responsibility. Is this not what God intended to teach Adam when
he charged him to take care of the garden? When I was a young boy I not only had my weekly chores, but
every August and September my brother and I had added responsibilities. We burned sawdust in our
basement furnace and my brother and I were responsible to get the six dump-truck loads of sawdust from
our driveway into our basement bin before winter. It was not easy work, even though the trek from our
driveway tot he basement was short. We corralled our neighborhood friends, made a game of it when we
could, but it was nevertheless work - hard work. Yet both of us would say today that those sawdust mounds
dropped in our driveway at the end of each summer taught us responsibility. My mother, a widow, helped,
but what she gave us in terms of responsibility made more of an impact on our lives than the bucketfuls she
carried herself just to ensure we didn't give up.
Through work, we experience the joy of accomplishment. We catch a glimpse of this sense of
accomplishment at the end of the creation story when God, having surveyed what he has made, says, "My
what a good job I did!" I remember standing with a developer friend who had just completed his first
commercial building. I could see by the twinkle in his eye that he was pleased, that he felt a sense of
exhilaration at having brought this project to completion. I have the same feeling most Sundays when I step
our of the pulpit. There is joy in accomplishment.
Through work, we glorify God. Johann Sebastian Bach liven his life for the glory of God. On 285 of the
pieces he composed, he penned the letters "JJ" at the top and the letters "SDG" at the bottom. "JJ" stood
for "Jesu Juvo" and "SDG" f or "Solia Deo Gloria". The first means "Jesus help" and the second "To the
Glory of God Alone." I like that. In fact, it's become my workday pattern. If you'll make it yours, you might
just be able to say "Thank God its Monday!" with as much enthusiasm as you now say "Thank God it's
Friday!" After all, was that not what the Apostle Paul was driving at when he penned these words: "Work
hard and cheerfully it is the Lord Christ you are really working for.
Rev. Joel Eidsness is pastor of Grace Community Church in Brookfield.