Work often seems to scream louder than God when I walk into my office on Massachusetts Avenue – especially in light of Genesis 3:17b-19:
Cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return. (Genesis 3:17–19, ESV)
I work as a government affairs analyst at an advocacy organization, and I spend a majority of my time advising a large senior citizen organization. As I work to explain the political process to clients, I am greeted with the same old “we elected these people to do something and we haven’t seen ‘em do squat!” Often the work is more mundane than taxing or challenging, so relating to the “toiling in the field” of Genesis 3 does not seem to fit.
But then I look again, more generally: sin enters the world anew with every birth, the Earth fails to yield its full potential, and man falls away from God because of pride. In many ways this does actually model my “daily grind” when I go to work: I begin each day with sin-stained thoughts, motives, and actions; I fail to live up to my potential, not only at work as an employee, but in every aspect of my job as a citizen; finally, I too fall away from God at work because of pride. And so do the people I’m advising, and so do the people about whom I’m advising. This is a direct consequence of Genesis 3. Work before the Fall was pleasant, perfect in fact! The only difference in the two “works” of Genesis chapter 2 and Genesis chapter 3 is that one was united entirely with God and His design, and the other was not; man believed in his own knowledge—after all that is what brought the Fall and led to the dispersion at Babel in Gen 11.
In the face of this world, how should one enter the workforce? The answer quite simply is “fully.” A Christian ought to enter the workday fully satisfied in God’s Word. Whether that satisfaction is developed in a quiet time, singing in the car, or reflecting on God’s Creation while riding the Metro, one must intentionally dwell with and in the Creator before taking up the day’s tasks; otherwise the disadvantage is too great to overcome. I tried having quiet times at day’s start and finish, but I still struggled with work—I still held negative attitudes that shone through in actions towards circumstances and other employees. So I concluded that, with so much madness rushing towards me in the workday, I needed Genesis 3:15 in my life:
I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel. (Genesis 3:15, ESV)
I do not mean merely memorizing the verse, I mean feeling it. Understanding the hope that is implanted in a seemingly hopeless chapter. God entered into the worst chapter of the Bible, in the form of creation, not Creator, and won the battle. I never really believed in “feeling a verse” until a few years ago, but if there was ever a verse that can send chills all up and down my arms; Genesis 3:15 is that verse. Work must encompass this hope because the Gospel is the only knowledge in all of history that can push a person to be the best government affairs associate in all of Washington, D.C….even though – when walking in the door to another set of angry phone calls – that person seemingly has no passion for the day-to-day grind necessary to accomplish such a task to the nation’s good and to God’s glory in the work being done.
Will Thompson interns for an advocacy organization in Washington, DC and is a member of the 2015-2016 Capital Fellows Program.
Images: FreeImages.com/Harrison Keely