Posted by: Brian Musser | July 14, 2016

Work-Ship: Showing Off the Image of God through What We Do.

Let’s start with Genesis and read the passage about God creating humanity.

Gen 1:26-28 (HCSB)
Then God said, “Let Us make man in 1) Our image, according to 2) 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 3) own image;
He created him in the 4) 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 works. This God, who works, creates humanity in His image. And then immediately after creating us, He gives us certain assignments. The image of God in humanity has deep and meaningful significance. Our value and worth are intimately tied to the fact that we are specifically created in God’s image. It is important to note that humanity, being created in the image of God, is directly and immediately connected to the assignments God has for us to do. Our work is somehow dependent upon the image of God invested within us. Our tasks of ruling, being fruitful, multiplying, filling and subduing is interwoven among four statements of being created in God’s image.
Humanity being created in the image of God means that we look like God. God has chosen to reveal something about His nature through His image in us. God has also chosen to reveal something about how God works through how we work. Being created in the image of God who worked and then immediately assigned tasks to complete allows us to assume that we can look like God as we work.
GOD THE FATHER

Just to make this idea about God working more manageable, let’s handle each person of the Trinity separately. And let’s begin with God the Father. In general terms we can categorize God the Father’s work into two categories: His creative work and His sustaining work.

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Psalm 104: 27 – 30 (NIV)
27 All creatures look to you to give them their food at the proper time.
28 When you give it to them, they gather it up;
when you open your hand, they are satisfied with good things.
29 When you hide your face, they are terrified;
when you take away their breath, they die and return to the dust.
30 When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the ground.

A Story:
Imagine two college classmates, Sarah and Susan, are both computer science majors at the same school. Both of them are Christians and both are trying to serve God through their degree. People see Sarah as a genius. She knows at least five different programming languages. She can write code to do just about anything. Coding gets her creative juices flowing. Sarah’s professors have commented that she often uses code in ways that they have never seen before. Some of her approaches have been described as exciting and fresh. Sarah’s programming style is so unique that others can recognize it as hers even if they did not know she wrote it.

Although, Sarah is great with a keyboard and a computer, she is not so good with people. Real people scare her. Often Sarah wishes life was as easy as programming. She would love it if people responded as logically as machines did. Life would be better if she could write code to solve her real world problems.

When she is coding she often feels like she is building a better world. She does imagine that someday she will write a program that will make this world a substantially better place. This might sound unchristian but Sarah feels closer to God when she is programming than when she is in church. Sarah at times imagines that God used a computer language when creating the universe. She knows this is extremely prideful but she can’t help thinking that the only difference between her and God is that God can write flawless code.

Then there is Susan. Sarah and Susan prove people wrong when they say that all computer nerds are alike. Susan is not very creative at all. She spends very little time thinking about new ways to do new things. At times Susan wishes she was more like Sarah. Susan enjoys watching Sarah when she is “in the zone” writing code like a virtuoso. Envy creeps up on her every once and awhile.

This doesn’t mean that Susan doesn’t have her talents too. Susan spends most of his time solving other peoples’ problems. She loves studying programs that are already written looking for ways to better understand what they can do and how they should work. When something goes wrong she can usually fix it in thirty minutes or less. Susan is the Pizza Hut of computer techs. Many of her classmates come to her when things stop working. Susan has even been able to get a couple of Sarah’s programs back on track. She is known as the girl who keeps the entire department running.

Sometimes she wishes things were different but most of the time Susan is motivated by helping others. She really likes helping people. She really likes being the girl they come to when they need something. She likes being needed. If Susan has a problem it is that she might spend too much time helping others and not enough on her own stuff. She just can’t say no when someone asks her for a favor. Susan sees serving others as serving God. She laughs when she hears about how giving a cup of cold water in Jesus’ name to anyone is like giving it to Jesus himself. She finds that funny because of all the times when spilling the cup of cold water on a computer was the problem she was trying to fix.

Discussion:
⦁ What jobs do you think of as being creative?
⦁ What types of jobs are about maintaining things as they should be?
⦁ Would the job you have, or the one you are preparing to have, be considered a creative job?
⦁ Even if it is not considered a creative job are there ways for you to be creative within the job?
⦁ Have you ever been in charge of keeping a piece of equipment or machinery in good working order?
⦁ Did you find that task and role fulfilling?
⦁ Have you ever been dependent upon the maintenance of someone else to keep something of yours working? Did they do their job or did they let you down?
⦁ Do you see your work as more creative or sustaining?

GOD THE SON
Just as we see Scripture talking about God the Father as a worker we can also examine the work of Jesus. Although, there are probably innumerable different possibilities of distinction in the work of Christ, I have chosen to focus on two large ideas for this study: Christ as Communicator and Christ as Redeemer.

John 1:14, 18 (HCSB)
The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory, the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth….
No one has ever seen God. The One and Only Son— the One who is at the Father’s side— He has revealed Him.
Colossian 1:15 (HCSB)
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.

Job 19:25 (HCSB)
But I know my living Redeemer, and He will stand on the dust at last.
Colossians 1:13-14 (HCSB)
He has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son He loves. We have redemption, the forgiveness of sins, in Him.
2 Corinthians 5:21 (HCSB)
He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

A Story:
Karla and Kyle work at the same hospital. Karla is a doctor and Kyle is a registered nurse. Karla became a doctor to fix problems. She loves the challenge of meeting a disease for the first time, figuring out what it is and trying to beat it. Karla is a doctor because of the Science of it all. She is a great doctor. She is respected by her peers. She is very seldom wrong with even the trickiest diagnosis. She knows exactly how to treat everything that the hospital throws at her. She has saved hundreds of people’s lives. She finds her job extremely rewarding and satisfying.

Often Karla will spend time thinking about certain memorable cases. She likes to replay the exciting hunt for the answers. Someone comes in broken. Something is wrong but in the beginning it is never quite clear exactly what. Karla finds out what. Karla figures out how this person is broken. She deduces what is wrong. And then based on her years of training and experience with all the tools available to her in the hospital she does her best to fix the problem. More times than not the broken person walks out of the hospital much better than when they came in. The problem is solved. The crisis is made right. What was wrong is no longer an issue. Karla often will tell people that her job is to make people work like they are supposed to.

However, Karla has issues when dealing directly with people. She will often joke with her colleagues that medicine would be a lot easier to practice if all this illnesses didn’t always come attached to so many needy individuals. Practicing medicine is both interesting and rewarding but there is a logical pattern to it. There are specific things to look for. There are a set number of questions to ask. There is a defined procedure. And if you do things correctly, if you diagnose and treat correctly, people get better. Medicine makes sense to her. People do not. There is no standard operating procedure for people. She’s had some psychology and sociology classes but they have just seemed to make her more confused. People react in completely random ways. When she is trying to work with a person to help them get better that person will not do exactly what Karla has told them to do. It is like they don’t want to get better. It is like they don’t want to do what is necessary. If they weren’t going to listen to her why did they come to her in the first place?

Karla likes it when Kyle is working. Kyle is a nurse and he seems to balance Karla’s personality perfectly. Kyle is completely competent at his job. He is even above average when it comes to the skills a nurse needs. However; what really sets him apart from the other nurses is how easily he can connect with the patients. He is able to talk to them like he is their family. He is able to communicate with the patients in ways that help them understand everything that is going on, motivate them to do what is needed and sets them at ease even though for many being in the hospital is one of the scariest moments ever in their lives. Kyle almost intuitively knows that it is not only important to be right but it also vital that the patients trusts that you are right.

To Kyle communication is the key. He not only needs to say the right things but he needs to say it in the way that his patients understand him. The patients are more likely to be afraid of something they don’t understand. Confusion and uncertainty are always scary. Kyle not only takes time to learn what is wrong with the patients but he also takes time to learn who the patient is. Explaining a surgery is going to be different to an ex-Marine than it is to a librarian.

Often Kyle quietly laughs to himself at the way he hears Karla talk to her patients. Most of the time he knows he is going to have to follow up on the conversations she has with the patients he is connected to. Karla is a great doctor but she just doesn’t understand people. Well, she understands how they work just not how they think. But that’s okay. Kyle will make sure he smooths things over later.

Discussion:
⦁ What types of professions would you see as being at their core based on revelation and communication?
⦁ What types of professions would you see as being at their core redemptive or restorative?

GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT

Just as we see Scripture talking about God the Father and Jesus Christ, God the Son as workers we can also examine the work of the Holy Spirit. Although there are probably innumerable different possibilities of distinction in the work of the Holy Spirit, I have chosen to focus on two large categories for this study: The Holy Spirit as Convicter and as Enabler

John 16:7-11 (HCSB)
Nevertheless, I am telling you the truth. It is for your benefit that I go away, because if I don’t go away the Counselor will not come to you. If I go, I will send Him to you. When He comes, He will convict the world about sin, righteousness, and judgment: About sin, because they do not believe in Me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will no longer see Me; and about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.

Acts 1:8 (HCSB)
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
Acts 2:4 (HCSB)
Then they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different languages, as the Spirit gave them ability for speech.
Joel 2:28-29 (HCSB)
After this I will pour out My Spirit on all humanity; then your sons and your daughters will prophesy, your old men will have dreams, and your young men will see visions. I will even pour out My Spirit on the male and female slaves in those days.

A Story:
Betty Baumgartner has been a high school technology teacher for all of her adult life. She started teaching immediately after college. When she was young she had dreams about changing the world. She was idealistic and naïve. Now some days she wonders if she has really accomplished anything. Those are the days that her students don’t seem to be understanding the basic words that are coming out of her mouth. The days of confusion and apathy really make Betty tired. She no longer wants to change the world. Now she is hoping just to impact one student. She wants to be the difference in that one student’s life. She wants to be the teacher that showed technology to someone and it changed what they thought about the world. It changed their career path. It gave them the tools to become a productive member of society. Betty often questions her success because she can’t always point to a pile of concrete objects that she has made. Her job has results that are much more intangible.

Betty had lost touch with Bill, one of her first students. If she had stayed in contact with him she would have realized the impact that she has already had. Bill is an engineer. Bill can point back to a specific moment his high school technology class and a specific quote from his teacher Mrs. Baumgartner that changed everything. “Technology is just a tool. The good you do with it is only limited by your imagination.” Bill never forgot that quote. He has it written down in a notebook he keeps with him. And Bill has been able to use technology for good. Bill works in the automobile industry and has had a hand in designing several of the safety features that now come standard on most American cars. Right now Bill is working on a project that will enable the car to communicate to the driver when the car believes the driver is making a mistake. Bill hopes this project will help save lives in the future. And to think his career is all because something one teacher said that one time.

Discussion:
⦁ Are there specific careers that are solely judged by the results they produce through other people’s actions?
⦁ What types of professions would you see as being at their core based on empowerment and enabling?
⦁ What types of professions would you see as being at their core convictive?
⦁ Do you have/are you preparing for a job that facilitates the success of others? What do you do and who do you help be successful?
⦁ Have you ever had a job where you did make a lasting difference in the rest of an individual’s life? What did that experience feel like?
⦁ How do you point out things that are wrong within your work environment?

What is one thing that you will change this week because you now see that you can work like God works?
How does it make you feel that God in some way has worked or continues to work in a similar fashion to your work?

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Responses

  1. […] Taught at the Exist Conference at Church of the Nazarene-Immanuel in Lansdale, PA:  Work-Ship;  Showing Off the Image of God through What We Do.  God is a God who gets things done.  Because of the image of God in all of humanity there are […]


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