God’s ultimate answer to Genesis 3 took time to develop. Thousands of years later, he sent his own Son to save us from the curse of sin. But Jesus does more than just save us and take us to heaven right away. He keeps us on this earth. Have you ever wondered why?
To do good work.
God saves us by grace through faith, and our faith is a gift from God, not as a result of any kind of works, so that no one may boast (Eph. 2:8-9). But God does save us for works that he has prepared for us to do.
Through the gospel, we are God’s workmanship, his little “new creations” in Christ who live under his dominion, as his representatives in the world, just as Adam and Eve were at the first creation. Jesus is Lord of every sphere of existence and human activity. Therefore, the good works you were saved to do cannot just be “church things” or “morality things.” They are everything, including your occupation. Don’t you think what you do at least eight hours a day, everyday, would be a significant part of the good works God has prepared for you to in Christ Jesus?
Os Guinness, English and author sociologist says, “When God says to us in Jesus ‘Follow me,’ everything we are, everything we do, and everything we have are given a special devotion, dynamism, and direction as response to his summons and service.”
Jesus absolutely transforms your work. And when he says, “Follow me,” he empowers your work in at least two ways.
First, Jesus gives you a new purpose in your work. You can now work for an Audience of One. You no longer need the approval of men. You no longer reject work and become lazy. Jesus opens our eyes to see that work is a response to being redeemed into his image. This is why Paul can say in Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” Your boss may be oppressive or he just might be plain rude, but if you are serving Master Jesus, you can endure. You may hate your job (I’ve been there!), but you can endure because of who you ultimately serve. You were created for good works in him and in your work, you, like Adam and Eve in the beginning, serve as his representative wherever you work. In a very spiritual way, you are exercising the dominion of Christ in that sector of the world. Wow! That changes everything!
Second (and this is most exciting to me), Jesus gives us new perspective in our work. Through the gospel, Jesus does not only redeem individuals, but the whole universe. The whole material universe! This means that what we often assume to be unspiritual (like work) is actually very spiritual because it will one day be redeemed to be everything it was meant to be. Two texts help us here.
- Matthew 25, the parable of the talents. What does the master say to the two men who were faithful with what they were given? He said, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master” (v. 23). In context, Jesus is speaking about eternal rewards and punishments. He is not saying, “You will get more on earth because you did a good job teaching Sunday School class.” No! He is saying that heaven will be a place of true industry, true creativity, true diligence. In heaven, Jesus says, there will be more work, not less. But there will be no curse. It will be all joy.
- Revelation 21:24, 26, “The nations will walk in the light of the Lamb and the kings of the earth will bring their glory in…they will bring into it the glory and honor of the nations.” Scholars debate over what this precisely means, but we can at least say it means something of human culture and creativity will be ushered into the new creation, and enshrined and celebrated there. All our activity will not be forgotten. It will be redeemed.
These texts and others remind us that the new creation will be more “earthy” than we think. We will not be sitting on clouds, playing harps, in an eternal church service. In the age to come, life will be worship and worship will be life. It will be life as it was intended, with glorified intelligence, creativity, organization, diligence, and everything else that makes for good work. In heaven, accountants will balance budgets perfectly. Architects will design things perfectly. Engineers will build things perfectly. Musicians will play notes perfectly. Gardeners will grow plants perfectly. Grocery stockers will organize produce perfectly. Managers and supervisors will build and train teams perfectly.
What’s coming is not a boring eternity, but a perfect society of God’s redeemed image bearers exercising dominion in a new creation for his glory, as it was originally intended to be.
You and I will work forever. For the glory of Jesus. And, like in the beginning, this will be very, very good.