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    Entries in Al Wolters (1)


    Gardening and Culture Making :: The Pattern for all of Work

    Gardeners Area

    Last week I wrote a post on work that got a bit of attention from readers, and I have a number of guesses concerning why. Most of us recognize the deep challenges and the great rewards that come with work, and I have yet to speak with someone who is not seeking meaning or significance in their jobs or vocations. We would like to believe that our work is worthwhile, not simply for the pay, but because it contributes to the common good, the up-building of human society. If we believe in God, we hope that our service has a connection to our faith.

    In the Bible, the first occurance of work is in Genesis 1, where God forms and fills the earth by the power of his word. In Genesis 2, prior to the moment where the man and woman take from the "Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil," God places the man in the garden to "work it and care for it." Work was included in what God deemed "good." Intuitively, we sense this, for while work can be toilsome, we have experienced the deep pleasure that comes with a job well done.

    Timothy J. Keller is one of my favorite authors, and in his book Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God's Work, he explores the Genesis 1 and 2 passages, drawing out implications for us as God's representatives on this earth concerning work. Keller contends that as "God's image-bearers with regard to creation...we...carry on his pattern of work." Quoting Al Wolters, Keller notes that as an extension of God's work to form and fill the earth, "[we] carry on where God left off." Keller argues that in the pattern of the gardener, "[rearranging] the raw material of the garden so that it produces food, flowers, and beauty," we find the pattern for all of work.

    Keller writes:

    Farming takes the physical material of soil and seed and produces food. Music takes the physics of sound and rearranges it into something beautiful and thrilling that brings meaning to life. When we take fabric and make a piece of clothing, when we push a broom and clean up a room, when we use technology to harness the forces of electricity, when we take an unformed, naive human mind and teach it a subject, when we teach a couple how to resolve their relational disputes, when we take simple materials and turn them into a poignant work of art--we are continuing God's work of forming, filling, and subduing. Whenever we bring order out of chaos, whenever we draw out creative potential, whenever we elaborate and "unfold" creation beyond where it was when we found it, we are following God's pattern of creative cultural development. In fact, our world "culture" comes from this idea of cultivation. Just as he subdued the earth in his work of creation, so he calls us now to labor as his representatives in a continuation and extension of that work of subduing.

    Let these words dignify your work and inject them with meaning.

    You Might Also Be Interested In:

    Christianity and All Forms of Work
    Common Grace :: Appreciating Good Work in All Forms
    Tim Keller on MSNBC