In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth….So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” (Genesis 1:1, 27-28)
There has arguably never been a more hysterical commentary on modern work than The Office, the television comedy about the employees of Dunder Mifflin.
The cast is filled with men and women who hate their jobs almost as much as their boss, and could best be described as “actively disengaged” from their work—(Jim: “I am about to do something very bold in this job that I’ve never done before. Try.”)
Dunder Mifflin’s employees would rather be anywhere other than the office—(Kevin: “I just want to lie on the beach and eat hot dogs. That’s all I’ve ever wanted.”)—and view their work as a necessary evil to access meaningful things outside the office—(Creed: “If I can’t scuba, then what’s this all been about? What am I working toward?”)
This sentiment comically portrays one of the most prevalent storylines the world sells us about the meaning of work. This narrative (let’s call it “The Office Story”) says that work is a meaningless means to an end. We endure the drudgery of our jobs because we need to collect a paycheck to enjoy the truly meaningful things in life: our families, our friends, or donating money to our church or “full-time missionaries” who are doing “work that actually matters” in the world.
Today’s passage and the verses we will explore over the next few weeks make clear that the Bible refutes “The Office Story” of work.
As we see in Genesis 1 and 2, God himself engaged in “the work of creating” (Genesis 2:3). In the beginning, God created. In the beginning, God was productive. In the beginning, God worked.
Interestingly, the Bible is the only religious text that makes this claim. Every other religion says that the gods created human beings to work and serve the gods. Only Christianity starts with a God who works.
But not only did God work, he called us to work and reveal his creative character in the process. God worked and called us to do the same. In the beginning—prior to the Fall—work wasn’t drudgery. Work was worship.
So Scripture refutes small storylines for work that claim our jobs are merely meaningless means to other ends. Next week, we will see how God’s Word also refutes a more common story of work which on the surface appears to offer cosmic meaning for our lives.