Currently we live in what the theologians call the “overlap of the ages” or the “already/not yet,” when the new world to come is breaking in but the old age which is passing away has not yet given up its last breath. And this basic biblical truth about the Christian life creates the right approach to understanding our work and our desires. Our work, like all our lives, lives between our redemption and the consummation of history when Jesus returns. The new age is breaking in but not fully here. The old age is passing away but not fully gone. And in that overlap, work can be what it should be, but it is not there yet, nor will it be until Jesus returns. Work, like all the Christian life, is between the times, a mix of curse and redemption, because the restoration of our world is not yet complete, not consummated until Christ’s return.
Why drag that out? Simply put, to say this: do not be over idealistic. What we want matters deeply, even to God. And work should be great; it even can be great. But it will not be fully great until Jesus returns. So, we must know now that our vocations in this life will not be fully what we want. Such an admission is neither settling nor inauthentic; it is simply the way the world really is. We recognize that we will not get all the way there in this life.Bill Fullilove, “‘Because I Want To?’ – A Christian Approach to Desire and Vocational Calling“
We all want to love what we do. But sometimes, work is a drag.
One of the big questions human beings ask is this: “What is going on?” Another is, “What time is it?” The first question puts us in touch with reality–external realities, like world events, and inner realities, like our emotional, mental, and spiritual state.
The second question is an eschatological one, framing our perceptions within time. For Christian people, we live in a moment in history in which God has moved in decisive ways, yet the consequences of those decisive actions, such as the incarnation, atonement, and resurrection of Jesus, are still working themselves out, moving toward a day all history will be consummated.
That means work can fulfill us. Some days we will accomplish tasks, have interactions, and claim victories that we find fulfilling, meaningful, and satisfying. But other days we’ll experience setbacks, discouragement, and disappointment. Some days will be exciting. Some will be boring.
If we seek our ultimate fulfillment in our work, it will always lead us to disappointment. But if we set our hope in the Lord we can endure our most difficult days and look forward with anticipation to the day when God will set all things right.
Addendum: When I went hunting for an image for this post, I searched “work” in the online database Unsplash. Almost every result showed people at a computer, or sitting around a conference table with computers. Knowledge work. In order to come up with an image showing people making stuff in the physical world, I had to search for “construction.”