A secular worldview, that is, an outlook on life that fails to take God and his revelation into account, distorts work in either of 2 ways. It could see work as a meaningless but necessary burden which we have to bear in order to survive, or it turns work into an idol – the sole purpose of a person’s existence. Work and not God becomes Lord.
The first view considers work as a curse; we do it because we have to. We cannot so much as bring passion to it. Do your work, receive your pay, and enjoy it on the things that really satisfy. The second view goes in the opposite direction. Career advancement becomes all a person lives for. Everything, including relationships, are simply tools to push us further on the career ladder. These views are not merely different ways of relating to work, they issue in different understandings of the nature of work itself.
The Christian worldview has a high view of work. We find the origin of work at the dawn of Creation. God had made man, planted a beautiful garden, and placed man there to take care of it (Gen. 2:15). Some verses earlier in Gen 1:28, God had given humanity (the combined team of man and woman) a charge to develop and extend creation. This charge has been called the Cultural Mandate, and it denotes humanity’s divine assignment to complete and perfect the work of Creation as partners with God. Given these considerations, work thus takes on a new look. Far from being a mere necessity or a cursed burden, and far from being a platform for self-worship, it is a means by which we fulfill our task of developing the universe under God. Instead of a burden, it becomes a privilege. And instead of exalting ourselves, work becomes an avenue for glorifying God and serving others.
With the onset of sin, however, the exercise of work is frustrated. Much of it now comes with toil and suffering. Nevertheless, where sin abounded, grace abounded much more. Under God’s common grace, he keeps knowledge alive and limits the effects of the fall. And with the coming of Jesus the Redeemer, we are renewed and empowered to serve one another with the grace we have received from Him (1 Pet. 4:10).
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