by Ernest O’Neill
Who Was Socrates?
Socrates is regarded as the father of logic. The “Socratic” method of question and answer is the basis of all our teaching techniques. The great Greek philosopher used it skilfully to motivate his students to think more deeply about truth. Although he lived hundreds of years before Christ, some of his last words on the day of his death were these: “Whether or not God will approve my actions I know not; but this I am sure of, that I have at all times made it my endeavor to please him, and I have a good hope that this my endeavor will be accepted by him”.
How did Socrates develop such a respect for God ? Well, wasn’t he made in God ? Isn’t that what the Bible states in Ephesians 2:10 – “for we are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” ? And he may have read Psalm 139:13 – “for thou didst form my inward parts, thou didst knit me together in my mother’s womb” or verse 16 – “thy eyes beheld my unformed substance; in thy books were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them”.
In other words, Socrates was no different from you and me – we were all made by our creator inside His Son, Jesus Christ – long before the earth itself was created. As John wrote in the first chapter of his New Testament book – “Jesus was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.” So Socrates and you and I and the earth itself were all made by God through and in and out of his Son. That’s why we feel at times such a kinship together.
Where Did Disorder Come From?
Just as God did all this in a millisecond, so Christ knew in the same moment that we would not necessarily use our wills as He does – some of us would exercise them for our own aggrandisement rather than God’s ! In that same moment He bore the disorder and chaos which such independence created in the world and in us. But, instead of ejecting us from Himself (which would have annihilated us completely), He held us within Himself and set about rectifying the disorder our attitude brought.
All of this happened outside finite time – in eternity – and is alluded to in Bible verses like Galations 6:14; Romans 6:6; 1 Peter 1:20; Ephesians 1:3-10; Psalm 129:13-18.
Then, in order to give us an opportunity to see and understand it all, God created time and allowed our creation in Christ, our disordered independence, and Christ’s bearing and forbearing with us – to be played out in temporal reality here on earth in these present years.
What Has This Got to do with Work?
You and I are still in Christ – until we finally face our own judgement at the end of this life – and He has planned to express through you some of the order that He brought when He reconciled the cosmic disorder in eternity. That is what Christ does through you at work !
If you are a cleaner or an accountant, Christ has certain order to bring to this disordered world through you. You yourself cannot do it – all you do is re-arrange the dust or the figures, but God has “works which He has prepared beforehand that you should walk in them”: all you do is “walk in them” i.e. re-arrange the dust or the figures. But Christ fills your re-arranging with his “work prepared beforehand” – a spiritual order that overcomes the disorder brought about by man’s sin and independence.
So all your work each day is filled with Christ’s continuing activity as He redeems and completes the world He originally made. This is the significance of your daily job – it is not a series of chance tasks that anyone could do. It is not a way to “earn your bread by the sweat of your brow” as a punishment for sin: this consequence of man’s independence was replaced by Christ’s death with God’s original commission to “fill the earth and subdue it”. Your job is a way that Christ resolved to use you to express the order that he brings into the world. You are involved daily in a miracle: through your work (whatever others may think) the Maker of the universe is bringing invisible (and at times, visible) order and beauty into His world of people and things.