All Work is God’s Work

Our speaker at Weekly Manna at the law school yesterday was Bryan Lair, lead pastor of Trinity City Church in St. Paul. This was Bryan’s second visit to the law school and he is a wonderful speaker.

The them of yesterday’s reflection was work and, Bryan’s “major premise” was that all work is God’s work. This is a theme we’ve discussed in many programs at the law school, the idea that there is no separation of our faith lives from the rest of our lives – that all we do is part of the living out of our vocations as people of God.

Bryan’s starting points in talking on this subject were Genesis 1:28 and Genesis 2:2:

God blessed them, saying: “Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things that move on the earth.” (1:28)

Since on the seventh day God was finished with the work he had been doing, he rested on the seventh day from all the work he had undertaken.

Bryan observed that God didn’t rest on the seventh day out of fatigue, but because God was finished with his part. It is as though God said: I’ve created the world, I’ve given you the raw materials, now you bring it to flourishing.

Humans were given work before sin entered in the world, Bryan reminded us. Work is not punishment, not something we are forced to do, but something we were made to do. And something we were given to do out of love. Bryan spoke of his father letting him help mow the lawn when he was a child. His father could have done the job quicker and better, but out of love let his son participate in the task. So, too, God. God could do a whole lot better job than we do – but out of love invites our participation in the co-creation of the world.

The other part of his talk I found interesting was his discussion of the corruption of the balance between work and leisure. From the beginning there was work and leisure – both are necessary. The effect of sin, however, is a corruption of the proper relationship between the two – a corruption that can operate in either direction. Sometimes the balance tilts in work’s favor – work becomes important, not for the sake of God’s plan, but for our own. We become greedy and work displaces God and human relationship. Sometimes the balance tilts too far toward leisure and sloth and laziness takes over. Either extreme is problematic, so our task it to keep them in proper balance.

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One thought on “All Work is God’s Work

  1. Great synopsis. Of course, John Paul’s “Laborem Exercens” always deserves a re-read. In all of this we must address issues like a just minimum wage and the reality that labor can too often be deadening boredom and dehumanizing. Understanding something is not the same as doing it!

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