The Imago Dei and God the Worker

A Christian Perspective on Work, Part 1

Is God working, or is God resting?

According to Genesis 2:2, God is resting (“By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.”)

However, according to John 5:17, God has continued to work (“Jesus said to them, ‘My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.’”). And Psalm 107:15 exhorts us to “thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of men.”

It is clear that God is not the watchmaker God, who wound up the Creation and now passively watches his creatures without doing anything. He is still at work. Our God is a worker.

This must mean that God does not “rest” as in taking time off from work. It must mean something else (which we’ll explore later when we address “Sabbath”). Suffice it to say that after the initial Creation, God entered the “rest” of enjoying his handiwork. He entered into a time of dwelling in and with the work of his hands.

God works.

And God creates humanity in the image of the Triune God that works. On the sixth day, God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” The job description given to humanity was this: “The LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it." (Genesis 2:15, NASB). Humanity is to “cultivate” – that is, to create culture out of God’s raw materials.

And notice that God gives Adam a job right way – to “rule over” the creation. In fact, the first thing on Adam’s “To Do List” was to name the animals. God brought the animals “to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name” (Genesis 2:19). This is significant; God gave Adam true responsibility - "whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name" - no questions asked, no stipulations, no second-guessing.

Human beings, as the bearers of the divine image, reflect God in our work. A proper Christian theology of Work must start with the fact that work is intrinsic to what it means to be human!

This brings honor and dignity to all work, and gives the foundation for glorifying God in all that we do.

A Christian Perspective on Work:
Part 1: The Imago Dei and God the Worker
Part 2: Satisfaction in Work
Part 3: God Provides Through Our Work
Part 4: Work in Community for Community


Ted M. Gossard said...

Amen, Bob. Good and important words for us ever to remember. Just in Genesis 3 in talking with someone today as to what's a part of the fall and what's part of God's intent in creation. Work is certainly part of that intent, reflective of God himself!

Talkin' Texan said...

Thanks for reminding us how important our work is. It is not just something we do. It is God ordained and should reflect His presence in our lives.

Mark Goodyear said...

I can't believe it took me so long to get here. This post is amazing! I love your insight into sabbath and rest:

God entered the “rest” of enjoying his handiwork. He entered into a time of dwelling in and with the work of his hands.

I wonder how often we are so disciplined in our rest that we forget it is supposed to be a matter of enjoying creation?

Sam Van Eman said...

great post, bob.