Work is a blessing. It is intended to be a way for human beings to use their talents and creativity to the glory of God.
Way back in the garden, before sin corrupted the world, God gave us work to do. “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” (Gen. 2:15) At the other end of time, when Jesus will return and bring with him the New Heaven and New Earth, the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, and sin will be forever non-existent, “the kings of the earth will bring in their splendor.” (Revelation 21:24)
It’s no accident that the Bible begins in a garden and ends in a city. The New Jerusalem will be the garden plus all of human culture and creation to which the kings of the earth bring their splendor. Jesus, the lamp of the city, will make sure that nothing and no one shameful will ever enter heaven.
We will work, on the new perfect earth, in glorious freedom of expression and tremendous talent, to the glory of God.
However, we live today neither in the beginning, before sin wrecked God’s good gift of work, nor at the end, after the world is redeemed; we live and work in between those two perfect points. We can only dream of perfection.
The author of Ecclesiastes, who many believe was Solomon, the smartest man to ever live and one who could try his hand at anything and everything, said that his lifetime of work was “vanity and a striving after the wind.” He also said “…there is nothing better for a man than to enjoy his work, because that is his lot.” He sounded a little conflicted over work.
Can you imagine working in a sin-free environment? No more annoying self-centered people, no more poison politics, no more layoffs, and no more overlooked performance. Some occupations would be completely unnecessary; police (no one will break the law), doctors (no one will get sick or die), social workers, and prison staff come to mind. Will there be a need for accountants? Lawyers? Pastors?
What will we do?
Donald Macleod, a seminary professor, wrote this about eternal life: heaven will “…challenge their intellects, fire their imaginations and stimulate their industry. The scenario is a thrilling one: brilliant minds in powerful bodies in a transformed universe.”
Industry in eternity will be challenging, stimulating, and thrilling.
We will glorify God in a world free from sin, and all the problems it has caused throughout history, with “brilliant minds in powerful bodies in a transformed universe.” It is far beyond my imagination, but I know it will be a blessing.
Work will finally be what it was intended to be: joyful, powerful, full expression of our talents and gifts to the glory of God.
What do you think we’ll do in heaven?
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men…” Colossians 3:23