Matt Wolfe has been my friend for about two decades. My youth pastor then my pastor, I then worked for two years under Matt as his youth pastor. He was the best man in my wedding, and a few years later I became his pastor. We’ve worked together on many projects, have had many late nights hanging out, and have lots of inside jokes. I contacted Matt a couple of weeks ago and asked him to be a guest blogger. Several years ago Matt stepped away from pastoring and worked in construction for several years. Because of this I requested that he address the topic of work. Here is a great theology of work presented by Matt adopted from sermons he gave at First Baptist Church of Westfield, New York.
What’s your theology of work? You might say,” What’s a theology of work?” If I asked you, “What’s your theological view on Jesus?”, hopefully you’d say something like, “He’s the Son of God, sent from heaven to live a life I could never live, die the death I deserve to die, rise again from the dead to offer new life to all who trust in his finished work for salvation.” In other words, you’d be telling me what you think about Jesus. So what’s your theology of work? What do you think about work? Is it something like….
Tumble outta bed and I stumble to the kitchen
Pour myself a cup of ambition
And yawnin’ stretchin’ tryin’ to come to life
Jump in the shower and the blood starts pumpin’
Out on the street the traffic starts jumpin’
With folks like me on the job from 9 to 5
Workin’ 9 to 5, what a way to make a livin’
Barely gettin’ by, it’s all takin’ and no givin’
They just use your mind and they never give you credit
It’s enough to drive you crazy if you let it. (9 TO 5″ LYRICS by Dolly Parton)
Now that’s classic Dolly. Since then, we’ve had many more variations on the theme. Rascal Flatts: “Friday can’t come fast enough y’all.” Steve Azar: “I don’t have to be me til Monday.” And, of course, you can’t leave out Loverboy’s, “Everybody’s working for the weekend.” What can I say? I spent a lot of time on the construction site listening to classic rock and country music. And I can tell you that most people there – like most people you know – are, indeed, working for the weekend. Their theology of work is, to put it succinctly and probably more politely than they would, work stinks.
That’s really a shame because—all things being equal—the average fully employed person will work some 100,000 hours over the course of his or her lifetime. That’s a lot of hours no matter how you look at it. But it sounds just awful if work does, indeed, stink. But what if there’s a better way? What if God’s got a better way for us to view work?
Over the next couple of articles, we’re going to work at understanding work from God’s perspective. As we do so, we’ll see that God had designed it—as he has so many other things—for our blessing and his glory.
In this first session, we’ll spend most of our time in the Old Testament. In the next, we’ll zero in on a few key New Testament passages. And as with so many areas of theology, we need to go back to Genesis 1. And in those opening verses of the Bible, we see first that God is a worker. Genesis 1:1 – “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Keep reading there in Genesis 1, and you’ll see references to God made, God said, God separated, God called, God set, and so on. Look elsewhere in the Scriptures, and you’ll see other ways in which God’s creative work is described. For instance, in Job 38:4 and following, Job’s getting taken to the proverbial woodshed for questioning God’s ways and judgments. And God asks him,
“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
On what were its bases sunk,
or who laid its cornerstone,
when the morning stars sang together
and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
“Or who shut in the sea with doors
when it burst out from the womb,
when I made clouds its garment
and thick darkness its swaddling band,
and prescribed limits for it
and set bars and doors
and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther,
and here shall your proud waves be stayed’?
God describes his creative work in a way to impress upon Job his ability and skillfulness. He likens his creative work to that of a skillful mason, laying brick, snapping lines, ensuring strong foundations. Maybe Michelangelo should have painted some Carhartt bibs and Wolverine steel toes on his Sistine Chapel ceiling rendition of God creating the world. But then notice how God mixes metaphors—using the pictures of a construction worker and a midwife to describe the way in which he birthed and bordered the seas—two very different but two very difficult jobs. Our God is a worker.
In Part 2 Matt will answer the question, “Is There Satisfaction in Work?”
In Part 3 Matt discusses work ethic.
Thanks for taking time to read this Maddening Theology post. If you enjoyed this content you can find Pastor Tim’s sermons at www.cornerstoneforestcity.org. You can also join us at 520 Marion St. Browndale, PA 18421 on Sundays at 10:45 AM. To make following the blog easier you can also register. You can also join us on Facebook at Cornerstone Forest City. Also, don’t forget to download our APP on iTunes or Googleplay.