Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Gift of Work

Work, in many ways, is a gift from God. The Bible’s first words bless the inherent goodness of creative work: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1, NIV) God worked at starting the Universe. He created light, water, food-bearing vegetation, the sun and stars, and all the living creatures of the earth. His six days of work culminated with the creation of man in God’s own image. All that God created was very good. Then God rested on the seventh day because he “had finished the work he had been doing.” (Genesis 2:2, NIV) The Bible teaches that the Sabbath day is holy because of its relationship with work on the prior six days. (Genesis 2:3)

But a key teaching of the Genesis creation story is the idea of man being created in God’s image. As an image-bearer of God, man shares God’s inherent affinity for creative work. This trait becomes damaged as a result of sin entering the world. In Genesis 3:17, work’s creative goodness takes on a component of toil because of man’s original sin. Work is no longer known only by its creative aspects but also by its frustrating and difficult tendencies. One doesn’t have to look very hard to see how sin frustrates work and even contributes to its absence for large communities of men and women. Even though work has good, creative aspects for all individuals, some people find it difficult to find employment because of issues like poverty, addiction, or felony conviction. As a result, those very challenges become self-perpetuating realities because of an inability to support one-self through employment.

With the reality of the two natures of work--its creative necessity and its frustrating nature—there is an important role for faith venture employment ministries in today’s world. Organizations like Belay Enterprises and other business as ministries can step into an area where the market fails the needs of individuals. For a person rebuilding a life from a felony conviction or homelessness, a job can be the first step towards future success and realizing God’s creative designs for an individual’s life.

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