After working for the man for almost three years, I am about to be liberated. On July 4th of all days. Work is one of those under explored topics that doesn't receive a lot of attention in the theological world. It is one of those topics that people just assume is a natural part of life and there is not much to be said about it. "Everyone has to go to work, if you don't, you are one of the lucky ones." I hate to say it, but full time ministry is seen as one of those lucky ones. I can say this because I was in full time ministry for over 10 years.
I think this is another one of those gaps that clergy laity creates, that is, the gap between the working class and "the luck ones." Don't get me wrong, full time ministry is definitely work, but it is a different kind of work. It has a totally different dynamic that a 9-5, or even sales. really there is nothing else like it, especially if you are in a majorly dysfunctional church.
That being said, it is still perceived as being a cushy job, and in some ways it is. A theology of work is often passed over because the ones doing the teaching are primarily the full time ministry people. The Sunday school teachers are sort of assigned their materials a lot of the time, or have other topics they like to explore.
So is there anything to say about a theology of work? Or is it just one of things that can pass under the lens of scripture and not really reveal anything? I think the concept of work is at the core of our experience. We spend most of our time at work. (Maybe this is why no one wants to study it!) A large portion of our lives revolve around it. The entire world does it. Most people are jaded about it, or don't like their jobs.
But work is actually linked to the origins of humanity. Genesis 2 and three don't just vaguely mention it, they make it a pivotal theme in humanities purpose. God gave Adam a job, to work the garden. This means work is not a byproduct of the fall. It is in our human design to work, and transform the creation, subdue it etc. However, after the fall, work took on a different flavor. It became tainted by a fallen world,one that became hostile to us. Actually, this negative side of work is rooted in the fall. So what does that tell us about work? Well, if you are in Christ, then work is supposed to be a part of the new creation. We should no longer regard work as apart of the old way of doing things. It has become new.
Some of you are thinking, "Yeah right, there is nothing new about my job! It sucks!" Well, this is precisely where the concept of new creation comes in. First, we are being redeemed from the curse, so it is not necessarily the existence of work that changes, but our attitude and perception of it is being aligned with God's agenda for the world.
I guess what I am trying to say is, no matter what kind of work we are involved with, we are sent into that environment by God to be salt and light. This in and of itself puts a new spin on work. While it does not absolve work of it's cursed flavor, it repositions us to approach work in a new light. And isn't this part of what Paul means in II Cor 5:17 when he says, we no longer see people from a worldly perspective....new creation.
I am about to become self employed, and I tell you what, this was a hard learned lesson for me to learn in this past 3years working for FedEx. They micromanage your day, it is somewhat monotnous, and you have to be out in all kinds of weather. Not to mentioin it isnot very intellectually engaging. Still, I was forced to process that part of my life through new creation. I would like to say I passed the test with flying colors. The truth is, I bitched and moaned a lot and enjoyed some what cycnical moments through all of it. I am glad that God was in my life through all of it, because I could have easily become a corporate zombie.