A guest post by Jeff Arnold.
In the beginning, there was work.
The concept seems simple. In the beginning, God worked. He created work for us to enjoy. But somewhere along the way, work went from being divinely created to manually distorted. In a perfect world, Tim Keller writes in his book Every Good Endeavor, work provides us an outlet to put our skill set on display. That gives our lives purpose, but also provides a stage on which to showcase God’s image for the working world to see.
But then again, we don’t operate surrounded by perfection.
I once worked for a demanding and often aggravating newspaper editor who routinely came to my desk while I was reporting my latest story and enthusiastically proclaimed, “Remember, we’re doing God’s work.”
It’s an oft-used journalistic mantra, one I could appreciate and be inspired by when considered in my editor’s context alone. But when I mixed in my Christian perspective, I quickly realized I was being held to a higher standard.
When considered divinely, God’s work becomes our work. And in turn, our work becomes God’s. But as Keller points out, if we lose sight of the reasoning behind the meaningful work God created for us to glorify Him with, work can become ugly. It can become fruitless, pointless and self-centered – everything God never intended for it to become.
For work to, well, work in our lives, it must – Keller writes – remain in its proper role, subservient to God. It must give way to not only work stoppage for bodily repair, but also for the joyful reception of the work and ordinary life.
It’s quite the high-wire balancing act.
So the question becomes simple or perhaps simply complicated. What are we working for? Who are we working for? And at the end of the day, is our working actually working?
Jeff Arnold lives in Chicago’s Lincoln Square neighborhood, where he works as a contributing writer for the Chicago Sun-Times and considers whether a second Chicago Marathon would be the end of him.