Hope for Post-Labor-Day Blues: Work as Image-Bearing in God's Economy

By Robert Alexander on September 07, 2016

We are tugged in so many different directions by people and institutions that want to conform us into their image. Nevertheless, our work is being transformed by God through our faithful gospel presence. It is not an accident that God has placed you where you are. Through your presence, you reflect God’s character as one of His image-bearers to those around you.

 

The English word economy comes from a Greek word that means “good housekeeping” or stewardship of something or someone. The picture that the Bible paints of God’s economy, or work in human history, is one of God’s deep love and care for humanity, coupled with an invitation to participate in the ongoing growth, redemption, and care of His Kingdom. We enter into God’s economy or household when we receive the gospel by faith. God then invites us to become image-bearers who imitate His care for His creation as partners in His household work.

 

As participants in institutions that are ordained by God but also fallen (media, government, education, entertainment, households, businesses, science, etc.), we may have once operated without a knowledge of the gospel. Without Jesus, we relied on our own devices and were pressured by those same institutions to be conformed to their “image.” Each one has its own language, values, and rewards apart from (and sometimes opposed to) the purposes of God. Even now, those institutions are at odds among themselves as they seek to make all human culture subservient to their goals, aims, and values.

 

But the gospel has changed all that for us. Through the victory of his life, death, and resurrection, Jesus reversed the curse of sin and death present in us and the institutions we are part of. He gives believers His life and record and makes us partners in His work. He also gives other gifts:

 

Ephesians 4 says that because Jesus made us recipients of God’s grace he also gave us other gracious gifts—like joy, peace, patience, and kindness—that reflect God’s image and character. Not only do we have a tremendous calling and freedom in our work, we also have all the resources we need from God to accomplish the tasks set before us. The grace of God is unleashed by faith and empowered by the Spirit to build up God’s kingdom through our work.

 

This is illustrated in the story of three stoneworkers who were building a cathedral. A stranger wandered by as the first stoneworker was transferring rocks to a pile near a wall. “What are you doing?” asked the stranger. “Can’t you see that I’m carrying rocks?” he replied. The stranger asked the second worker, “What are you doing?” He said, “I’m building a wall.” Later, the man came upon the third mason. “What are you doing?” he asked. This worker knew whose image he reflected. “I’m building a cathedral to the glory of God!” A godly perspective on his circumstances made all the difference. The gospel frees us to reflect our heavenly Father in His creative beauty, fruitful providence, and redemptive care. All of our personal circumstances can be a way to participate in God’s work.

 

 

 

 

GCL_for_Work_frontcover smallThis post is an excerpt from The Gospel-Centered Life at Work by Robert Alexander, a 10-session small group resource that will help participants build a bridge from personal faith to the difficulties and drudgeries of the daily grind.

Kathy Leary Alsdorf of Redeemer City to City’s Faith, Work, and Leadership Initiative says: “Congregations need The Gospel-Centered Life at Work. Too often our approach to living out the Christian faith in our work life is rules-based, just emphasizes being a good person, or concentrates on the workplace as mission field. A gospel-centered work life is so much more profound and nuanced than that. This study opens our eyes to see God at work refining us and opportunities for God to be at work through us. Our work can become a vocation in response to what Christ has done for us!” 

 

About Robert Alexander