Work in Community for Community

A Christian Perspective on Work, Part 4

Humanity is built for community and community is built for humanity. We were created to work in harmony with others in order to serve the community, a synergistic force for the good of all. We work together to move society forward. This work is the Hebrew concept of Shalom – the universal flourishing of everyone in the community through our work.

In the community there are mini-communities that do the same basic services – creating specializations for the good of the larger community. There are mentors and apprentices, whether in the trades or in the professions. This is the way it is meant to be.

In Genesis, we read of families that train up members in specialties. We read how these specialties arose in Genesis 4:19-22,
“Adah gave birth to Jabal; he was the father of those who live in tents and raise livestock. His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all who play the harp and flute. Zillah also had a son, Tubal-Cain, who forged all kinds of tools out of bronze and iron.”

Work is a social activity. Jabal’s skill in animal husbandry, Jubal’s skill in the arts, and Tubal-Cain’s skill in craftsmanship were all handed down to others, so that they are called the “fathers” of these trades. We were meant to create sub-communities in which specialists can teach the skills needed for specific types of work. These are what we see in trade associations, colleges in universities, mentorships and internships. It is good that humans work together in this way.

Work is accomplished in cooperation with others. When Moses is given the mandate to build the tabernacle, he was not commanded to do everything on his own. He was to work cooperatively with gifted people in the community.
"Then the LORD said to Moses “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills— to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts. Moreover, I have appointed Oholiab son of Ahisamak, of the tribe of Dan, to help him. Also I have given ability to all the skilled workers to make everything I have commanded you.” (Exodus 31:1-6)

Bezalel and Oholiab were gifted for work, and in cooperative community, the work that glorifies God was done. Spiritual Gifts for work is yet another subject that needs to be explored. That will be my next post.

The point here is this: Work was not meant to simply be an individualistic endeavor, something that we do on our own as we seek to fulfill some personal desire for worth. It is meant to be communal – in the training for work, in the cooperation to get work done, and in the benefits to society.

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

1 comment:

Great Googly Moogly! said...

Hey Bob,

I'm really enjoying these posts in your series on work. I've always been the one who dreads going to work; I've never liked the idea that I "have" to work--why can't I just have enough money to enjoy life! :-)

Your posts are encouraging me very much as I begin to see, not the "moral" or "ethical" qualities that I should be bringing to my job, but the shalomic reality of "work" itself.

"What about you? As an image-bearer of the Triune God, how do you reflect the God who enjoys and finds satisfaction in work?"

This is an important question that you ask. I'm not sure yet about the "practical" answer to this, but I am sure it that it begins with really knowing who we are as His Children and the fulness of what was accomplished in the Person and Work of Christ.