Some visionaries tell us that, in the future, people will not work at all.
At first, that possibility sounds wonderful, and it could well be our personal hope, too.
In fact, it is highly unlikely and not even desirable, because work is an integral part of human life, and has been from earliest times.
Many people think that work came to human life after Adam and Eve had sinned as a punishment for sin. But Genesis 2 tells us otherwise. In this text, we find the earliest biblical interpretation of creation, God creates the first mortals, plants a garden and places the man there to cultivate and care for it.
As Labor Day weekend looms before us to mark the traditional end of summer, and we turn our faces to the fall season, let’s pause to rethink the meaning and value of work as integral to our lives. What dangers exists that thwart making work meaningful today?
For Christians, work is one of the ways we are Godlike. God not only created once long ago, God creates today, here and now. God has invited us to be creators too. We create new life, imaginative and fruitful ideas, beauty, fun. God in Jesus has performed the work of redemption, and continues to do so today. In John’s Gospel, for example, Jesus talks to Philip and the other disciples about the works he does – works that are healing enlarging, reconciling. We are called to do these works too, to help transform the world.
Wherever we work, whatever we do, we are a significant part of a divine-human relationship that makes the world a better place in every way possible.
Some of the jobs people do, while they contribute to the over-all wellbeing of the community, can be easily and peacefully left at the end of an eight hour day. One danger of the jobs that can be left at the end of the day is choosing not to do them well – to have a sense that it doesn’t matter. Other jobs demand much more of a commitment, continued learning and practice. The danger in these jobs is that they become so absorbing that we become overcommitted to them to the detriment of other important aspects of our lives. In the end, we can fall victim to our jobs – and become the proverbial workaholic.
Here are two invitations that can help us recommit ourselves to our work in a fresh way:
Place our daily work – whatever it is – into the framework of God’s creative and redeeming love – to see what we do as important, because in working we participate in God’s continual shaping of our universe.
Place our daily work in the context of life. Work isn’t all there is, yet work contains elements of friendship, community building, education, faith, play and celebration.
Enjoy whatever aspects of your work you can. Enjoy other people’s creative work.
~ Sister Joan Sobala