Made to Work (Genesis 1:26-30)August 13, 2023 | Brandon Cooper
We are to think biblically about work. God made us to work, not as a result of sin but from creation. We were created in God’s image, and God works, so we were made to work as well. Our work should be an act of worship towards God as well as an act of love and service towards our neighbors. We are also called to build God’s kingdom through our work by cultivating and making culture. While the fall introduced difficulties, our work can still be good when done to fulfill God’s purposes. We can see our jobs and daily tasks as callings from God rather than just ways to earn money.
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All right, good morning, I want to go ahead and grab your Bibles. I felt bad the last two weeks that I made to try and find Obadiah. So we’re gonna make it easy this week. Go ahead and turn to page one. Page one, you can find a Genesis one beginning in verse 26. As you’re turning there, William Wilberforce is one of the most important figures in human history, in his decades-long political life, just about single-handedly brought about the end of the transatlantic slave trade. Certainly one of the turning events in world history also reformed England’s morals, through and through, he was a man of tremendous energy and initiative. In fact, at one point in his life, he was leading or participating in 69 different initiatives in England’s political life, several of them truly world-shaping initiatives. And yeah, we tend to think of the slavery piece as a huge part of what he did. But I mean, this is the guy who founded the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, for example, I mean, he was involved all over the place – did all this amazing work. And what’s incredible to me is that it almost didn’t happen. Almost didn’t happen. Because when he was converted at age 25, he decided to leave politics in order to enter ministry. Assuming that spiritual work, so-called is more important than secular work, so-called. And it was only through the intervention of John Newton famous for writing Amazing Grace, that he changed his mind and stuck in politics – and did what we can certainly all agree God called him to do – is Newton who said that we are all hoping that God raised you up for the good of this nation, and really, for the good of the world, and Newton was right. But what we were forced was thinking there, it’s a problem in the church isn’t it is a problem for a lot of us and how we think if you were to say, go into a church library, and you’re scrolling through biographies or something and you see a book that’s titled, the man or the woman that God uses, you know, black and white photo on the cover or something like that, you are going to assume that you are picking up a book, a biography about a pastor, or missionary. And here, if you were thinking biblically if we were to think biblically about this, why not a book about somebody like Joseph, or Daniel, or Esther, did God use any of them? And what were they? Not priests, not prophets. They were government officials in a pluralistic nonbelieving government, even in each case, you see the issue, we must learn to think biblically about the other six days, the Monday to Saturday, part of the majority of our time, really, depending on how much you sleep, you probably spend more time working than doing any anything else. Sleep is the only thing that competes with it. And we’ll talk about what I mean by work in just a moment. But if we’re not intentional about thinking through that majority of our time, we will fall into unbiblical modes of thinking just automatically, we will see work as a necessary evil. It’s what you do. So you earn enough money. So you can you know, buy food and have shelter. But the really important stuff you do is somewhere else that’s a Greek dualism That’s not biblical in the slightest. Or maybe we’ll fall into an almost medieval monasticism, where certain vocations are just better than others. If you’re a monk or a nun, you really love Jesus. And if you just stuck as like, a shoemaker, I’m gonna guess, okay. But let’s not pretend like you’re a superstar Christian or anything like that is probably most likely given where we inhabit time today will fall into the modernist post-enlightenment issue of seeing work as being about me, my identity, personal autonomy, the expressive individuals, and we talk so much about none of those ideas as biblical. Not in the slightest, and yet they’re common, you probably have thought some of them yourself at different points, even. Why are they so commonplace in the church? It’s because if we can just confess this openly, we have failed you. I don’t just mean me and Kyle, or something like that. But I think the leadership of the church generally, across the states has failed to equip the church as a whole to think biblically about these areas. It’s our job, after all, to equip Ephesians, 411 and 12. Christ Himself gave the apostles the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors, and teachers, why to equip God’s people for the work that they were called to do. But we don’t talk about it’s probably because we didn’t spend a lot of time in a secular workplace. So that might be some of it. But Miroslav Volf – a Croatian theologian – makes the point humorously. He says, you know the number of pages that theologians have devoted to debating Transubstantiation, which is something that either happens or doesn’t happen on Sunday mornings only far outweighs the number of pages that theologians and pastors have devoted to a theology of work, which happens Sunday through Saturday. Like we’re out of whack here, okay? And we can confess this. So that’s what we aim to do in this series is to get back aligned here to think biblically about work. If you were here, the last two weeks while we were in Obadiah, you know that to think biblically, is to think in terms of the history of redemption, creation, fall, redemption, and consummation, these four great eras of salvation history, and that’s what we’re going to do with work. So this morning, we’re looking at creation and work and the next week, the fall, then redemption and consummation across this four-week series. Why? Because I think I was gonna sums it up nicely. The problem with Western Christians isn’t that they aren’t where they should be, but that they aren’t, what they should be where they are, especially so in the workplace. So let’s remedy that. And let’s learn together what it means to be God’s faithful presence in the workplace. Because we’re gonna see it this morning, as we look at creation, because God made us to work, he made us to work that’s got three really important implications not just made to work, but made to worship made to love made to cultivate, we’re taking each of those in turn, turn. So first point here, what we’re gonna look at calling quite a bit this morning, so we are called to our God, what does that mean? That means we were made to worship, chapter one, verses 26, and 27. Read it for us, then God said, Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea, and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals and over all the creatures that move along the ground. So God created mankind in his own image, and the image of God, He created them, male and female, He created them. So it’s interesting how this starts, God says, Let’s make mankind in our image, come back the image in a second in our likeness, so that there’s a purpose here, there’s a reason God is making us so that they may work. In essence, mean rule is the word that’s used right there when it see that again, in the last section, it’s very clear that that means work. Work, quite simply, God made us to work. This is part of his original purpose and design. Work is not a result of the fall. It’s not that we were made for leisure, and then Adam and Eve messed up, and now we’re stuck working. That’s not what the Bible says, we were made to work. And that makes sense, by the way, because we were made in God’s image. And the God we image is a God who works. God himself is working, Jesus says that my father’s always working. Now, this is an absolutely shocking idea. To most people in most times, and most other religions. For example, the Greeks had this view of successive ages, and the original age, the Golden Age involved gods and humans living together with no need for work. That’s the Golden Age. We’re all just hanging about, you know, chatting, philosophy, but that’s not the Bible. In fact, it’s even more interesting because Moses throughout Genesis uses the word for ordinary human work, to describe God’s activity. By chapter two, verse two, by the seventh day, God had finished the work, just work, the same word we would use about what we do. That’s what God does. Look at what he’s doing here he forms humanity. He plants a garden and then waters it he’s feeding and caring for his creatures. He sustains all things by his powerful word, God is at work. Make sense? Then, that’s when Jesus comes God incarnate. He comes as a carpenter or a stonemason. As one commentator put it, a workman’s jacket was a fitting garment for a god whom the biblical revelation had all along, represented as a worker, a worker.
Of course, God works through our work. This is a huge part of how God works. You think of the prayer we pray maybe even daily Give us today our daily bread. What are we praying when we pray that we’re asking for you know, good harvest the right weather? Sure, absolutely. But hidden in that at least today, it means we’re praying for the farmer and the baker and the truck driver and the cashier At the grocery store, all of that is how God is going to feed us today with our daily bread. Martin Luther said, our vocation is part of God’s action. So that we could say, for example, you know, God healed me of my earache because my doctor prescribed an antibiotic AirDrop, for me. And those are both absolutely true. That’s how God acts. You can act miraculously, of course, but ordinarily works through our work. Luther describes our vocation as a mask of God, I kind of like that image like God is there hidden behind the scenes, even if the most mundane activity, you know, loading the dishwasher or something like that there is God hidden in what we are doing, which of course means that our work is an opportunity for us to experience communion with Him because He’s right there working through us. So human work is an imitation of God’s work, then we image God. We represent Him to creation as his vice-regents ruling over it. Now, the idea of humans imaging God was not unique to the Bible, but it was used very narrowly in other cultures. In the ancient Near East it was used of kings and others of royal blood Vega to image God and you know, the rest of you are just new kind of thing. But no. In the Old Testament, the idea of the image of God is used simply for humans, mankind, all of us. So not just the, you know, priest at the top of the ziggurat temple or something like that. But the canal digger, the stonemason, all the ones who built the temple as well. It can make sense then that the God of the Hebrews would come into the world, not as a philosopher king as the Greeks might have expected or as just statesman, as the Romans might have expected, but as a carpenter. God made us to work. Well, we’re starting a new series. So that means I got to define my terms. So bear with me here for a moment, but let’s just ask some obvious questions because they don’t necessarily have obvious answers. What exactly is work then? What are we talking about? Work does not mean remunerated activity, it’s not something that you get a wage for. Because no one’s paying Adam here and he’s working. So clearly, it’s something more than that. Plus, that would mean that all that the Bible has to say about work would have nothing whatsoever to do with huge chunks of us. Someone who’s retired and volunteering or someone who’s just volunteering anyway, students or stay-at-home moms and dads, I want to be quite clear that all of you groups that I just mentioned, right that you should be listening, because I’m talking to you too, okay. Because what is work, if not remunerated activity, it is purposeful activity. And instrumental activity that is, work is a means towards a desired end work is not something we do for itself. But because of what it brings about the satisfaction of some need a kind of separation for, from, say, a hobby, some hobbies, take a lot of work, I get that you know, but that’s what we’re talking about. It’s a means to a desired necessity. And so like, I know, some guys love to fix cars. And maybe we’ll just do that for its own sake. But for the most part, we repair cars so that we can drive. That’s what I mean by instrumental activity to bits towards a desired end. Because we were made to work, that sense of purposeful activity is essential to our being. You talk to people who are, say, in a hospital for a length of time, or who are in assisted living or something like that, and ask them how they’re doing. One of the frustrations you’ll hear expressed over and over again is I wish I had something to do gum board. Because there’s this sense of where I was made to be doing something of value. We don’t work just to live. In other words, we don’t just work for a wage as a much more positive vision. I love the way Dorothy Sayers puts it in front of CS Lewis’s. She wrote, “A Christian understanding of work is not primarily a thing one does to live, but the thing one lives to do, it should be the full expression of the worker’s faculties, the medium in which he offers himself to God. So there’s this shift biblically from you are what you do to do what you are.” Or if you want the poetic version, here’s Gerard Manley Hopkins, a Christian poet who said what I do is me for that I came it’s a beautiful expression of it. And Hopkins as a Christian would have known this, of course, it’s not so much for that I came but really for that I was sent into the world. And that injects the notion of, of calling into this discussion. We use the word vocation for jobs a lot as if it’s an exact synonym. What’s your vocation? What do you do for a living? That’s the kind of way we’re talking about? You heard this just yesterday, somebody said, I don’t do ministry as my vocation. And I thought, Well, no, you do. Because it is part of your calling, even though no one pays you for it. But that’s how we use vocation today like it’s a synonym for job. It isn’t. Vocation comes from the Latin word woke co meaning call, like I call. And so that idea of call is so important. Because you don’t have a call unless you have a caller. Somebody is saying, hey, come over here, do this. Alright, so we got to have a color. And even there, there’s the reminder that we were called first to someone, not to something, we are called to our God, we were made first and foremost, to worship, to worship, we were called to live entirely for him. Everyone, everywhere, all the time, our lives should be continuously offered to him. But that’s personalized, in what we do. What God called us to do uniquely your job, where you’ve volunteered, the fact that you’re, you know, a homemaker, or even that you’re studying in preparation, and stewarding what God has for you in the future. A job is a vocation, only if someone else calls you to it. And then you do it for him, and not for yourself. And that just helps us because that gets our thinking outward. And upward. Frederick Buechner puts it like this, the place God calls you is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s hunger meet. You see through there’s just that outward feel, there’s a sense of awkwardness to our calling, like, this is what I should be doing. And it’s so much bigger than ourselves. And so our work is enlarged that it’s not just a wage, it is a calling, it’s a mission, it’s a service beyond ourselves. It is an act of worship and not just selfishness. And that reminder is so desperately needed in our culture of expressive individualism is the whole idea of you just figure out what’s inside of you. And you just express that to the world. And that’s how a lot of us use our jobs even at this point. But the problem with that is because it is so egocentric, it’s led to the unraveling of so much of our social fabric because we’re all just going around serving ourselves. Robert Bellah – he’s the one who coined the phrase “expressive individualism” – he wrote this back in the 70s. Keep in mind, this is not a pastor or a theologian, this is a sociologist who’s writing and he says, one of the things that will help us out what we need is a reappropriation, of the idea of calling a return in a new way to the idea of work as a contribution to the good of all. That’s the reality. And here’s the thing, we can’t do that for ourselves, though. And we need God. In order to have that sense, there is no call without a caller. And so you can’t, you know, self-create your meaning and then have it be beyond yourself or something like that, that work. C.S. Lewis made this point speaking of morality, but it’s kind of funny. “It’s a little bit like the woman who during the London Blitz wasn’t worried about the bread shortage, because, in her household, they always ate toast.” I think that’s what a lot of us are trying to do here. We don’t need God to provide the bread of calling because we’ll just eat the toast have our self-created calling like no, that’s not how that works at all. But this is a better vision. We do have that in place, because it’s not selfish any longer. And that is a crushing burden, by the way, because if you’re creating your own meaning in your vocation, what happens when that doesn’t go so well? Your life was meaningless, I guess, or you’re bad or something like that. So it’s crushing selfish. It’s not nihilistic anymore. It doesn’t really matter what you do. And it’s not just dumb luck anymore, either. You know, you’ll hear people talk about their jobs sometimes. How did you end up doing this? It was the first job I got out of college and I just kinda…. Like we could do better than that. It’s the whole of our lives. As Paul Stevens said, “The whole of our lives finds meaning in relation to the Sweet summons of a good God.” That’s what we could have with the idea of calling. There are such significant implications, even applications when it comes to this idea of calling. First of all, it reminds us to focus on our primary calling, which is worship, called First and foremost to glorify God. Oswald Chambers says it like this. He says, Beware of anything that competes with loyalty to Jesus. Okay, a lot of us knew that the next sentence is really interesting. He says, “The Greatest competitor of devotion to Jesus is service for him.” Yeah, right, we can get caught up in the work and forget the worship part of it. The one aim of the call is the satisfaction of God. The second implication is it eliminates the hierarchy of work that we sometimes have. I’m a pastor, my work is really meaningful. You know, you’re just an accountant. So your work is a little bit lower than mine. Not a chance, if God specifically calls you to it, and you’re doing it for His glory, what right would any of us have to devalue? What God has asked you to do for the sake of His kingdom? And third, related point, it breeds humility, then too, but humility, especially of knowing that we are answering a summons, we’re no longer asking, What do I want to do? What should I do? But what is God calling me to do? And by the way, the idea of choosing for ourselves is very much a mirage anyway, isn’t it? You don’t really get to choose what you want to do. Look up? How about looking at how little choice you have, you did not choose your DNA, which matters a whole lot for what you do. You did not choose your family of origin. Some of you wish you could have but you can’t Sorry. All right. You didn’t choose even your education. When you think about it, you’re limited by geography, and the opportunities that are around you. And plus, your parents chose at least for the first bit there. I mean, if you could choose, maybe you’ve ever like you read you’re an elementary school or something you see, like all these eight-year-olds, what are you want to be when you grow up? It’s not what you’re doing now? Is it? What if I could have chosen at 22? What do I want to do with my life, I’d be playing the number 10 for Arsenal. Not free to choose that course of action for my life. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy doing what I’m doing. But just not in my DNA, right? Didn’t need more private lessons. That wasn’t gonna help me. Just lacked talent. That’s the problem there. And yet we can be content with where God has us. Because God, the God who loves us, gave His Son for us that God designed and called us to it to himself first though because we are made to worship at second point. So we are called to our God made to worship Yes, but we’re also called to a people. We’re called to be a people. And so that means we are made to love we see that and just next verse here we keep reading verse 28, God bless them, and said to them, Be fruitful, and increase in number, fill the earth and subdue it. This is interesting. So God is Trinity. He is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is this relationship of three persons, that at the same time constitutes a true unity. That’s who God is, in his essence. What that means is that God is love. God has always been loving, he did not have to create us in order to love because now there’s an object, it was always there from eternity past. In fact, Agustin even describes the Trinity as the relationship between the lover the father, the beloved, the Son, and the bond of love between them, the Spirit, God is love. And God made us in His image, which means God made us to love God and he called us to himself not as individuals, but as a people to be a people. And we see that from the very beginning, even before the call to work specifically to subdue the earth to rule over it is the call to multiply to be fruitful to fill the earth. Adam and Eve at least were called to marriage before they were called to work. And there is a tremendous clue in that this pointer to the meaning of our vocation and the purpose of our work. We were made to love and called to serve the family here in Genesis one is the prototype community. That’s not the ultimate community, the ultimate community is the church. Jesus makes that shift in Mark chapter three, he is saying look around at my disciples. Who was my mother, my brothers, my sisters? It’s you. Alright, so this is the family of God now, but the family was God’s prototype community. God says it’s not good for man to be alone. We’re called to be in relationship with one another in part because we cannot carry out our commission apart. We cannot carry out our commission as mere individuals. We’ll get into a whole anatomy lesson here, but you can’t multiply Be fruitful and fill the earth, just add him by himself or just eat by herself. They had to get married for that to happen. Ask your parents about it. Okay? So there’s just this sense of what we were meant to do. We need partners in that work, all of us to look at what God does, because this is so interesting. God says, in essence, I want an earth that is filled with people. So why doesn’t he just create millions of people? He does that with all the other species. How can we this one, he says no, Adam and Eve, you guys, you do this. Because He’s calling us to participate in his work. Of course, God calls us to fill the earth, causes Adam and Eve to fill the earth, not just with descendants. But with true community. I love the way Tim Keller put it. He says, “It seems clear from this passage that God does not want a human species. He wants a human society.” That’s what’s being built here. He wants this network of loving relationships, which will be necessary for human flourishing. It’s absolutely necessary for humans to live for us to have a civilization, whatever, I want to call it this network of relationships. I mean, just think of a chair for a moment. So you’re all sitting on pews, but you get the idea. Okay, you want a new chair? Could you make it yourself? So the question that Lester DeCoster asks, in his book on work, you’re making yourself – I could not – want to be real clear upfront, okay. I don’t saw things, so not me, but I know some of you are quite handy with tools. You’re like, sure. I could make a chair. Could you really? Where are you getting the wood? When you think well, if I needed to I could chop down a tree. Okay. Okay, so now you got a tree, you’re gonna fell the tree yourself and all that kind of stuff? And apparently not, you know, plain wood and all that kind of stuff. What tool are you using to fill the tree? Where are you getting the iron ore for your axe head? Or your chipping stones? That kind of stuff? Is the tree on your property? Because if it’s not, how are you getting to the tree? Are you driving on a road? What would you do with the asphalt? How about the car you’re driving in? Did you build that from scratch? Do you get the point right? It would be really, really hard to build a chair all by yourself. I’m so grateful. There are mills and Home Depot’s and frankly, I’m grateful there’s IKEA because I am building a chair. I can’t even build an Ikea Chair. I just have Jackie do it for me. So if we were to stop working as a society if everyone was just like, that’s it, I quit kind of thing. That’s it. Like it’s zombie apocalypse time. You got no food, you got no transportation, no communication, Wi-Fi is down. That means we’re like, you know, it’s over civilizations done. No services? No, no, all that kind of stuff will work. And the network of workers is what makes up the wilderness, a civilization that makes work outward focus and others oriented. That’s like our work. Is it a vertical dimension way to worship then there’s a horizontal dimension we’re made to love. Work is service work is an act of love for our neighbors. Doctors relieve suffering. Lawyers promote justice. Teachers are helping the next generation, discover and steward their calling. Maybe those are easy examples. Like of course, this is kind of, you know, helping industries. But really, this is true of most – I can’t say all, but most jobs, even if it’s not right there on the surface. I went to seminary with a guy. He was a second-career pastor. So he was in his 50s: very successful, owned his own company, and this company, they made the chemicals that you use in swimming pools, especially public pools, is who sold to. Is that an act of love and service? Has he ever seen my kids at the pool? Yeah, yeah, it is absolutely right. The fun, the friendship, the fellowship that you enjoy at a place like this, of course, it was an act of love.
Now, there are some hard examples. We’ll talk more about this next week, of course, but there there are some jobs that are not loving and they’re not God’s calling. If you work in the porn industry. That’s not loving. It is inherently exploitative and dehumanizing. There’s no way to do that Christian Lee. Some are more questionable. Some we would fight about right I could throw some things out here. You know, Can Can a Christian be a worker at a tattoo parlor? What about an organization that does online gambling like fantasy sports, liquor store ad agency where they’re manipulating people and to buy things they don’t really need. Those are harder questions, I get that we might not even come down in the same place. But most of the work we do is truly loving. We’re giving people what they want, and they need the chair to sit in, like plumbing that works. How grateful are you for that? That’s another problem. I’m not solving it on my own. Right, and the Wi-Fi goes down. That’s the end of civilization. So yeah, we’re good. Everything your mom ever did for you. These are acts of love? Or how about this one: I have a buddy that I just learned his son is in college now studying to make guitars. That’s awesome. We’re blessed by people who do that here, weekly, of course. So spend some time answering how is my work and not a job and say job work? Because we all have work to do? How is my work? An act of love? How am I serving God by serving others? And look, if you really can’t answer that question, if you’re sitting here going, I don’t know. I don’t think that is an act of love. I don’t see how it’s benefiting others. First. talk to someone, ideally, a mature Christian who’s either in your industry or at least industry adjacent and see if they can’t help you see it. Because you may just be in it, and you just can’t get your eyes up enough to go, “Are you kidding me?” Look at the benefit that you’re bringing it to talk to someone, first of all, and if you’re looking and you’re talking and there’s nothing that is not loving, then yeah, that is the time to leave. That is the time to make a shift. Because that’s not God’s calling on your life. But I think most of you if you were to talk, you’d go “Okay, I see it. I see it. On February 24, 1989, United Airlines flight 811 took off from Honolulu, Hawaii headed for New Zealand. That 300,000 pounds of fuel for the long flight, giving it a weight of over 600,000 pounds at the time, which is a lot by the way too heavy to land at that weight that type of plane at least. As they got to 22,000 feet, the cargo door blew off the plane. And actually, so major a change in pressure of course, and it makes it much harder to fly a plane plus the debris from the door took out the two right engines. So now it’s only flying on the left side, messed with the wing flaps as well. So there’s no way to slow the plane, which means the plane could only get down 295 miles an hour, supposed to land at 170 miles an hour. 100 miles from land, all this is going wrong, like too heavy. Unstable, going too fast. 38-year veteran Captain Cronin brought it in for what many of his crew actually said was the smoothest landing they’d experienced. And after this incredible ordeal, you know, they of course, interviewed the guy and said, What were you thinking when this all happened? And he said, “I said a quick prayer for my passengers. And then I got back to business.” It was the most loving thing he could have done right there to do his job well, right? I mean, how many of you think, “No, he should have been praying longer? This is the time to evangelize people.” I’m hoping somebody on the flight was evangelizing don’t get me wrong, but it wasn’t him. The most loving thing he could have done is to do his job. Well, so often. That is the case for us. God made us for each other. We cannot do this alone. He calls us to work as an act of love serving our neighbors. There’s one more element to our call, though. And that is that we are called to do the work of the Kingdom, right, we’re called to build for God’s kingdom, we are made to cultivate verses 28 to 31, picking up in the middle of 28th, where I left off rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground. And God said I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it, they will be yours for food, and all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground. Everything that has the breath of life in it, I give every green plant for food. And it was so God saw all that he had made. And it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. So here’s the third call. We are called to labor for God’s kingdom to see his will dawn on Earth. I expressed that as we are made to cultivate. The words that are used here are things like subdue and rule over. And we just gotta acknowledge upfront those are maybe hard words for some of you here, especially considering what humans have done to the environment. This is certainly not licensed to exploit or destroy God’s creation. And we know that because there’s no sin yet, we’re still before the fall. So this is still perfection and imperfection. We were called to subdue and rule over so not licensed to exploit or destroy. But make no mistake, this is a real assertion of will. Exactly like God. When we imagine, you look back to chapter one, verse two, it says the earth was formless and empty. And then God stamped his vision on it, an absolute assertion of will, that’s what we are to do also. And I think cultivation is a great image for this. So Adam and Eve are literally called to cultivate a garden. But gardening is such a good metaphor for what it is that we’re supposed to be doing. Because what do you do when you garden? You tend and order land, to make it as fruitful? As beautiful, as useful as possible. But of course, that’s what farmers are doing still today, thankfully. But isn’t that what we do in most professions? Really, what is music, except tending and ordering the physics of sound? Do you make clothing? What are you doing, you’re ordering fabric, to make something beautiful – even sweeping, something as mundane as sweeping – you’re ordering, tending to your home. Or take a profession like counseling or teaching? What does that involve tending and ordering the mind and our thoughts? This is what we’re called to do. In fact, it’s interesting, the word culture has the same root as the word cultivate. Right? Because the culture is what cultivated the creation mandate. That’s what theologians call verse 28. When God gives us this vision for creation, what we’re supposed to do in creation, the creation mandate is that we be culture makers. In fact, that’s the vision of the Bible, right? We move from a garden to a city. Now the city in conservation is in harmony with nature, which hours tend not to be, but that’s the idea we cultivate and make culture in the process. So the question then is, how can I take what God has given the raw materials to create, cultivate and collaborate? That’s, that’s what we do. That we’re given that I just use this key, right? How can I take what we have been given, as what all verses 29 and 30 are about? It’s all about God giving you all of this stuff. It’s a reminder that all of this is Grace. And it’s all a gift, even before the fall, we have grace in the sense that we have undeserved goodness, coming our way, the gifts of God, God gifts us not only creation but what we need to cultivate it as well, as part of what it means to be made in His image that He’s given us, especially the mental gifts in order to subdue and rule over creation. But he gives us specific gifts as well. And we know their gifts because you look at somebody like Mozart. And by age five, he was writing symphonies, that was not because of his hard work, was it? Of course not. You don’t have enough time to work hard to develop all that this was just a gift. And we speak about gifted people when they can do things like that. We’re all gifted people. We’re all gifted people. Now that is a little bit limiting on the one hand, because it means God gave you certain gifts. And so you’re kind of, you know, stuck with those gifts, how God made you, but it’s also incredibly freeing. It’s freeing because God gave you certain gifts, he made you a certain way to do certain things. You’ve been gifted and equipped to work, which is why work is part of how we learn ourselves who we are. He’s gifted us we see this Exodus 31, verses two to four. I love this passage. God’s speaking, he says, “See, I’ve chosen Bezaleel son of worry, the son of who are of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with a spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding with knowledge and with all kinds of skills.” And you’re like to do what? This is gonna be crazy. I used to be a prophet for sure to make artistic designs. And he was good at carving. That’s what we’re talking about. Right? were gifted to do the work. Gotta go. Now he is making these designs for the temple. It’s true. But I don’t know about you. I got artistic designs hanging in my house, and I’m grateful for them. That’s the gift that we have. We talked about gifts I gotta be a little bit clearer here. Of course, God has gifted Christians specifically with certain gifts that are necessarily necessary for the building up of the church for our maturity and growth in grace. But there’s also common grace, what God has gifted all of us as humans to fulfill the creation mandate, you know this you ever meet people whose minds are different than yours? And you’re like, “I don’t know how you do that, and how you do any of this.” Like I have zero capacity for sales. You start talking numbers to me, and I’m like, eyes glaze over so fast. But I know what God gifted me to do. I’m good with language. And I love it. Like, I’m so happy when I’m in the original Greek, prepping a sermon. You know, you guys from the New Testament or something like that. And I know some of you are looking at me like, really? That’s so nerdy. First of all, yes, yes, it is nerdy. But that’s me. Maybe you remember Chariots of Fire, when Eric Liddell is having that conversation with his sister, because she’s all upset that he’s not going to be a missionary, because that’s what good Christians do, right? They don’t just work, they got to do the Lord’s work. So she’s all upset with him. And he says, “Look, I get it. I know what you’re saying. But God made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure.” And that’s how I feel every Monday morning when I open up the Greek – you can ask my wife – how often I text her to be like, was a hard week or something like that. I’m like, “I’m just so glad I’m back here. Why he’s gotten to be good at Greek. And when I do exegesis, I feel His pleasure. You are gifted, to do His work, to labor for his purposes to see his kingdom come. And that means you are gifted to do good work. At the end of the passage, right, verse 31, God solid, he made it was good. It was good. It was very good. And God made you in His image, which means you were meant to do good work. can always say that the work we do is good. That’s next week, that’s the fall, right? But that’s the hope. The work itself is good, the work isn’t good. Because we get money to do what we really want to do. It’s good because we were made to worship and to love and cultivate. It has intrinsic value because God made us to do it. And as you live out his calling for your life, you can feel his pleasure. Like I want you to go to work tomorrow. And I didn’t say to your job, some of you are going to a job tomorrow, some of you are going to do something else tomorrow, go to work tomorrow, with a smile on your face. Because you know that you are doing good for God and for your neighbor. Because you can be a faithful presence in the workplace proclaiming your creator in the goodness of his creation. Or it’s not the place where we go to just earn money to live and we get to evangelize. And that’s what makes it good. No, it’s good. Intrinsically. And I think this helps a lot because some of us are wondering, like, what does it look like to be a Christian in the workplace? Like maybe complicated for us? Is there a Christian way to hang drywall? No. Okay, if you’re struggling with that question, there absolutely is not. But there is a Christian way to live out your calling, aware of your color, as you hang drywall in your workplace. And that’s the point like you are being sent, sent into your workplace commission to be God’s ambassadors doing good work for His glory. I read just recently of a church that is all about sending, and they have sent out a lot of missionaries. I’m grateful for that. I speak as a former missionary, which is why I’m allowed to say this and most of you can’t get away with it. Okay? So I’m all about missions. This church, every time a missionary comes back to visit with the congregation, they give the missionary a standing ovation. And I thought, “Oh, I love that. We’re going to do that here.” When do for pay last week. But I was prepping for this series. And I thought, “You know what, actually, I don’t like that at all.” Because why are we standing for them and not for you? Are they any less or any more cent than you are? Absolutely not thinking I’m grateful for missionaries doing God’s work, where they’re called, but I’m grateful for all of you doing God’s work where you are called. Every one of us is called commissioned and sent tomorrow morning. Think about that. Talk about it. Pray about even as a family like family as you’re getting ready, send your kids back to school and stuff like what a great time to talk about calling. Now I hear the objections. Of course, I know some of you are like, this is not what it’s like Brandon. It’s not all love and smiles. It’s tough to be ethical, right? Because the fall happened. That’s on page three. Okay, so we’ll be on page three next week. And we’re going to talk about all that. It’s actually been a tricky sermon for me to preach in some ways, too, because we always talk about Jesus and these sermons every week. We get To the gospel, but it’s tough when we stop at creation. So I just need you to know upfront that this is actually one sermon 160 minutes long, which will get fussy when I go 45 minutes, okay, so we’re going to break it up across four weeks, just know that there is more to come. And 1522 Dutch priests read Luther’s Babylonian captivity of the church, in which he speaks a lot about vocation. Luthers really want to help us recover the notion of vocation, they read this, they saw what had happened to their congregation, the fact that their work was treated as differently as pastors as priests than than everyone else’s work. And so they locked the church doors, which is, you know, a weird thing for pastors to do. But they realized their congregation had an edifice complex, which is my all-time favorite pawn by the way, so an edifice complex, they, they were all about the church, but like, again, you come in the church building, and that’s when the Holy stuff happened, then you go outside, and that’s where the secular stuff happens. Nonsense. They knew we must live our whole lives to God. And so they locked them out of the church. So they could stay out as a display of the Lordship of Christ over every inch, and every second, we are not going to lock the doors in the coming weeks. But that is what we want for this series, you learn to be a display of the Lordship of Christ over every inch. And second, what God has called you to do, let’s pray. Father, we worship you as Creator. We look around and we see the beauty of your creation, the fact that how you made us how you made this world, how you made the stars, the sun, the moon is very, very good. And we know that you made us in your image, to do good work. Also, you made us to work. May we work, Lord, for Your glory as an expression of our worship? May we work Lord, as an act of service and expression of love for our neighbor? And may we work Lord, to do what you’ve called us to do? To carry out your commission, to create culture, and to build for your kingdom. May you be greatly glorified in what we do we pray through Christ our Lord. Amen.