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  • Writer's picturePaul Cho

Why Do You Go to Work?

One day, my wife Esther and I were driving to work together during rush hour traffic at 8 am. We were caught in never-moving traffic and, feeling tired, found ourselves complaining about our jobs. We asked ourselves, "Why do we need to work? Why can't we have millions of dollars so that we don't have to work for a living?"

Often, we think of work as a curse, something that God gave us as punishment for our sins. We also see work as a choice, one that we must inevitably do even if we don't want to. What does the Creation story tell us about God's original purpose for our work?

(1) Work is a blessing.

Contrary to modern beliefs about work, the creation account in Genesis reveals that work is actually a blessing from God. In this Creation story, we see God is engaged in the work of creating the universe and bringing order, beauty, and light to the world through His work. Then, in Genesis 1:27, we see that God creates human beings in His own image.

Being created in God's image means two things. First, it means that we are called to enjoy a loving relationship with the Lord, and secondly, it means that we are called to reflect who God is to the world. Just as we reflect our parents in the way we talk and behave, God has made us to reflect Him in the way we work in His world. In other words, we work because God works.

Furthermore, in Genesis 1:28, God blesses humanity with the ability to multiply and be fruitful. The Hebrew word for "fruitful" is "Para," which can also mean "productive." In other words, just as God fills His creation with life, He wants us to fill all areas of creation with His presence as His representatives and engage in productive work that brings and sustains life, contributing to the flourishing of creation. The creation account in Genesis clearly shows that God created us in His image and blessed us to continue the work of creation and cultivation. Our work is a divine blessing from the Lord.

(2) Work is about contribution.

We live in a world that often reduces the purpose of work to merely making money. However, in the creation story, we see our Lord engaging in the work of creation; subduing chaos, formlessness, and darkness, and bringing forth order, beauty, and light. In other words, God's work in creation is all about giving and sustaining life, and creating an environment where all living things can flourish and experience God's full blessings - shalom. As we are created in God's image, our work is to reflect God’s work by bringing life to God's creation.

(3) Work is a divine calling.

We live in a world that often tells us work is just a means to make a living, a choice we must make. Yet in Genesis 2:15, we see God placing Adam in the garden and instructing him to "work it and keep it." This language of cultivation suggests that God called Adam to care for His garden. Our work, then, is not a mere choice, but a calling from the Lord to care for His creation.

I remember when I worked as a property manager in a social housing building in downtown Vancouver. At the time, I often complained about my work and felt like I wasn't reaching my full potential. Every day, I considered finding a new job with better pay and a better title. However, it was during those moments that God told me to stay in my current job.

As I reluctantly stayed on, I began to see why God had called me to work as a building manager. Through taking care of the building's needs, I met many tenants who were struggling with depression, alcoholism, and drug addiction. God opened my eyes to see the needs of these tenants and allowed me to serve them through my work as a property manager by ensuring they had a safe building to live in, and through my work in pastoral ministry by providing them with spiritual counseling.

As I faithfully engaged in this work, I truly realized that property management was something that God called me to contribute to, making the building a flourishing place where people can feel safe and experience peace in their lives.

If you ever question whether your work has meaning and purpose, meditate on God's original purpose for our work. God has created and blessed us to engage in productive work that contributes to the flourishing of His creation. This is our calling for our work in the world.

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