The following post is reprinted with the permission of Crossworld and author John Spadafora.
Work, in its broadest sense, encompasses far more than employment.1 It includes all of the activities of life such as marriage, parenting, school, and recreation. 1 Corinthians 10:31 shows us the ultimate purpose of everything we do: “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (NASB). Doing “all to the glory of God” means displaying God through deeds and words from a pure heart, through which He accomplishes His work.
That leads to our premise: Our work is to be a reflection of God and means of His work. Everything we do should display God and advance Him in the world. Jesus summarized the witness of the heirs of His kingdom by referring to them as salt and light. Salt, a moral preservative in a corrupt world, creates thirst for the One who is the Water of Life. Light illuminates a sin-darkened world and reflects the beauty of God, who is the Light.
Humanity in God’s Image
Genesis 1 records how God worked to create the universe and all that is in it, culminating in the creation of man. Humanity is created in God’s image with those rational, emotional, social, and spiritual qualities that distinguish us from the rest of creation and enable us to know, worship, and love our Creator.
Significantly, the word image was used in ancient times to refer to statues that rulers erected in extended parts of their empires as a reminder of their identity, presence, and authority in their kingdoms.2 We as humanity are the crown of God’s creation and our purpose is to reflect His glory — to be a reminder of God’s identity, presence, and authority in the world.
Three Aspects of God’s Image
While there are many biblical facets to the image of God, I believe they can be summed up in these: God’s love, justice and work.
God is love, an eternal community of three — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — characterized by perfect love. That community is the model for God’s community on earth — His people.3
God is just, referring to His perfection, rightness, and holiness — of which He Himself is the absolute standard. There is no sin in God — no injustice to mar His love. Therefore, His love never compromises His justice nor is compromised by injustice.
God’s work refers to all of His activity in the universe that issues from His love and justice, which reveals His infinite power, creativity, and excellence, and which has as its ultimate purpose the display of His glory throughout His universe.
Therefore, from the first page of the Bible, we understand who we are and why we are here: We were created to worship and enjoy a love relationship with God and to fill the earth with His image — to display His glory throughout the world by our God-like holy love through our work. What would it look like if all of God’s people viewed their existence and work from this perspective?
1 Oxford Dictionary defines work as “activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a result.”
2 How To Read Genesis, Tremper Longman III, p. 105. Cf. Daniel 4
3 John 17:21-23, 26