The Purpose Of Work


Superhuman Life No. 75

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by Ernest O’Neill

Are You a Nothing?

Most of us spend our lives thinking that we are little separate humancreatures who appear for a brief moment — and then go out like a light! Someof us feel we matter to our mothers, but many of us feel we matter to nobody.We feel this isn’t somehow right, so we expend a lot of energy and thought toget society to notice us, but usually they never notice us enough.

This whole scenario is untrue! In the first thirty years of the firstcentury the son of the creator of the universe lived on earth in Palestine andsaid that YOU ARE PART OF HIM. He and his father resolved that their completionof the universe would be carried out through you and the rest of us. They knewthey would have to bear the consequences of our actions if we were to be freelike them. That’s what they have done — in what for them is an agonizingmillisecond in spaceless timelessness. The outworking of it is taking place nowin time. The great news is that this is the meaning of your life in thesepresent years.

Where Does Work Fit In?

It’s also the meaning of your work-life. When our Creator conceived HisSon, He also conceived your existence and that of the universe. He knew ourpotential and the chaos we could wreak on the earth. At that same moment, Heresolved in His Son to bear the destruction we would cause to their loving life– and in His Son to counteract this destructive chaos with constructiveharmony. All of this occurred in a moment long before the earth was made.

We human beings were then created inside time and space to live out bothof these effects of our free will in this present lifetime. Thus our lives andour work simply ignore or uncover the harmony wrought by Christ in the universethrough each of us in Him. This “uncovering of something already done” isrecognised by countless “discoverers” as they uncover the beauty of thestructure of the DNA molecule or the simplicity of E=MC squared. This “dearestfreshness deep-down things” is the renewal or reconciliation that God hasgraciously worked into the torn fabric of man’s life: Christ has planned toreveal some of that harmonious beauty through you at work.

This is part of the meaning of the statement in Ephesians 2:10 that “weare His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works which He hasprepared beforehand that we should walk in them”. The real resolution ofsocial, personal, economic or mechanical conflicts is the uncovering of areconciliation that was worked into the fallen world from the beginning.Similarly the mental and physical benefits of removing dirt from a floor,disease from a body or error from a cashfiow are the results of eternalreconciliation wrought by the creator through his Son. The harmony of peacebrought apparently by our actions comes from the hidden exercise of God’s workin Christ. So He works — and we work also!

What If I Clean Bathrooms?

Does this apply to all work? Yes — in our jobs we are either ‘fillingthe earth” with the beauty and peace that the creator has worked in His son’sdeath and resurrection or we are emptying it by the “sweat of our brow” for ourown survival. Cleaning bathrooms or excising cancer uncovers God’s beauty andharmony, but each worker determines how much he participates in the glory andbenefit inherent in this work of God. So you in your daily work appear tocreate or order material or immaterial things, but actually you are onlyuncovering order that God has already worked into the universe through His son.Although you or Einstein or a policeman or a custodian may all seem to bringabout improvement of various kinds, you yourself will experience absolutefulfilment only if you see that the effectual result has been brought about byGod Himself. So the purpose of work is the actualization of Christ, God’s ownSon in you!

Read Superhuman Life No. 76

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