Posted by: Brian Musser | June 15, 2012

God’s Work as the Model for Our Work

On Fridays I will regularly post about Work-Ship.  Work-Ship is my theological attempt to combine what we do as workers with what we do as worshipers.  I write on this topic primarily in hopes to better prepare Drexel students to incorporate their faith into their work but I have come to the conclusion that it is also needed for the larger Christian community.  You can find several of my other posts on this topic here on this site under the category of Work-Ship or more extensively at my other blog-site Work-Ship specifically designated for this topic.

In the last post on Work-Ship: Working like “The Man:”  Balancing God’s nearness and distance in our work,  we saw in Genesis 1:26-31 that somehow our creation in the image of God was directly tied to our ability to fulfill the assignments God gave us.  Twice in that passage we cycle through this idea of created in God’s image and then immediately given assignments.  Humanity being created in the image of God is not entirely about us fulfilling these assignments.  I believe there is more to it than that but it is at least partly about that.  Some part of us being in God’s image is about us fulfilling these assignments.  Let’s look at that passage again:

Gen 1:26-31 (HCSB)

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness. They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, all the earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth.”

So God created man in His own image;
He created him in the image of God;
He created them male and female.

God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every creature that crawls on the earth.” God also said, “Look, I have given you every seed-bearing plant on the surface of the entire earth and every tree whose fruit contains seed. This food will be for you, for all the wildlife of the earth, for every bird of the sky, and for every creature that crawls on the earth—everything having the breath of life in it. I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. Evening came and then morning: the sixth day.

This time I have highlighted the tasks assigned to humanity by God.  This may seem like a rhetorical question but do those assignments fit into our previously developed definition of work?

 Work is the intentional use of a person’s energy (mental, physical, emotional and/or spiritual) to accomplish a specific change(This definition is developed more fully in A Godly Definition of Work.)

Of course they do.  In order to rule, be fruitful, multiply, to fill the earth or to subdue it there has to be intentionality, energy expenditure and we are looking for a specific change.  So based on our definition of work, God created us in the image of God and then assigns us work.  The image of God within us equips us to successfully complete the assigned tasks.  If completing the work is dependent upon God’s image being within us then is it safe to assume that as we go about completing them God’s image shines through us more brightly.  We can bear God’s image in our work.  We can look like God as we work. God’s creations bearing God’s image through their work will naturally bring the Creator glory.  We can bring God glory as we look a little bit like God in our work.  We can bring God glory through our work. Bringing God glory is the basic definition of worship. We can worship God in our work.  Our work can be a vital part in our worship of God.  This is the core concept behind the idea of Work-Ship.  It is a theological understanding of work in such a way that our work and worship become so intertwined that is it hard to separate the two.

We have assignments.  There is work that must be done.  We have the image of God to help us to accomplish these tasks.  As we bear God’s image through this work we can glorify God which is worship.  That is a great theological truth, but a trembling hand rises from the office manager in the back and the question comes out, “What does that truth mean for me when I go to work on Monday?”  How do we bear God’s image while working?  How do we use the image of God within us to accomplish our assigned tasks?  What does Work-Ship look like practically?  How are we to work?  These questions may be easier to answer than you imagine.

Previously we established the idea that God works.  We have just established that we should bear the image of God as we work.  It is my assumption that the best way to bear the image of a working God is to work like God works.  We can look like God by working like God.  So how does God work?  Once we come to some conclusion about God’s work we can examine how our work can compare to God’s work.

The Bible uses many different figurative descriptions of the work God has done, is doing and will do in the future.  Psalm 139:13-16 describes the God of the universe as a weaver.  John 15:1-8 describes God as a vinedresser and gardener.  Psalm 23 calls God our shepherd.  Jeremiah 18:1-10 sees God as a potter.  In Isaiah 1:24-25 God is a smith or a metalworker.  These are just a small sample of some of the ideas expressed in Scripture about God’s work.  As we move forward with this concept let’s focus on some of the large categories of God’s work.   To organize my thoughts I am going to individually focus on each person of the Trinity separately and highlight two areas of work that each does.  I am hesitant to do this because the unity of the Trinity means that each one is intimately connected in the work of all.  It is impossible to separate the work of Father from the work of the Spirit and the Son.  We are going talk about the work of the Father not in absolute isolation from the Spirit and the Son but for convention to help us grasp it conceptually.  The broad categories will be:

God the Father as Creator and Sustainer,

God the Son as Redeemed and Communicator,

God the Spirit as Enabler and Convicter.

Hopefully you will join us weekly as we examine each one of these categories.  First, our goal will to be to learn about how God works in each of these categories.  Then we will apply the lessons about God’s work to our work.  This will serve the purpose that if we can work like God works we can better bear God’s image in our work.  As we bear God’s image in our work we can better give God glory in our work.  Our work and our worship will then be united into Work-Ship.

If you want to be kept up to date about posts on this topic you can subscribe to this blog or the specifically designated Work-Ship blog either via your WordPress account or through email.  You can also follow me on Twitter or friend me on Facebook Next Week: Created in the image of the Creator to CreateAnd please remember to continue to lift Drexel Students up in prayer as we are coming to the end of finals week.

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Responses

  1. Have you ever thought about how being created in the image of God affects how we work?

  2. […] have been created by God.  We are created in the image of God.  But why?  In the previous post (God’s Work as the Model for Our Work) we started to examine the immediate connection in Genesis 1 between being created in God’s […]


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