Weight of Work – by Hugh Whelchel
All of us have been mesmerized by the glory of a sunset or the beauty of freshly fallen snow across a barren landscape. Yet, as beautiful as nature can be, we are still unsatisfied. There should be something more.
C.S. Lewis speaks to this troubling disparity in Weight of Glory:
We do not want merely to see beauty, though…We want something else which can hardly be put into words—to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it…At present we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door. We discern the freshness and purity of morning, but they do not make us fresh and pure. We cannot mingle with the splendours we see. But all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumour that it will not always be so. Someday, God willing, we shall get in.
As Christians who live in the age of redemption, we realize that the beauty we see in God’s creation is a reflection of his glory. As a great painting reflects the glory of the master artist who painted it, even the fallen creation still reflects the glory of the Creator of all things.
Living within the tension of the “already/not yet” of redemption and restoration also has significant implications for our work as well.
Made in God’s image, we are to create through our work things from the raw material he has given us. This is why J.R.R. Tolkien called man a sub-creator. Tolkien would also rightly state that one of the ways man glorifies God is through the sub-creation of works that echo the true creations of God.
While our work has been redeemed, it awaits the second coming of Christ to be restored.
Like our appreciation of nature’s beauty, we can enjoy our work while realizing it will never be perfect in this current realm.
Acknowledging that our work can never be perfect does not give us a pass. God still expects us to work as hard as we can to do the best at whatever he has called us to do.
God wants the work of our hands to bring about flourishing that glorifies him and serves the common good in the here and now. Although we will be blessed in this life as we obediently work toward this end, we wait for the ultimate blessing, Shalom, with patience.
Dear God, Thank you for revealing Your beauty in all of creation. Remind me daily that you have made me steward over my work and that as a sub-creator, I should work to glorify You in all the beautiful details. Amen.
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Hugh Whelchel is Executive Director of the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics (www.tifwe.org) and author of How Then Should We Work?: Rediscovering the Biblical Doctrine of Work. CLS often works with the Institue for Faith, Work & Economics (IFWE) to provide thoughtful and inspiring devotionals to CLS members. IFWE is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) Christian research organization committed to promoting biblical and economic principles that help individuals find fulfillment in their work and contribute to a free and flourishing society.