Mirroring God

“Why work?” The unwelcome call of the alarm clock at some early hour can prompt that question. The question has prompted many answers. You work to make money. You work to fulfill yourself. You work to change the world. In his 1985 essay, “The Abolition of Work,” Bob Black answered the question by saying, “No one should ever work. Work is the source of nearly all the misery in the world.”

When Bible-believing Christians address the “Why work?” question, the answer often prioritizes evangelism. You work in a “secular” job so you can share the good news about Jesus with unbelievers. Undoubtedly that's one of the reasons God places us in such jobs. But it's not the only object. Nor is it the primary purpose.

We find our chief reason for working in the Genesis account of creation. Of all that he created, God made only us human beings in his “image” or “likeness” (Gen. 1:26, 27). How would we “image” or mirror God's likeness? God's next words provide an immediate clue: by filling, subduing and ruling over the earth and its creatures. In other words, by working. God, the Worker, created in his image man, the worker. Why do we work? Because God works.

Genesis 2 confirms all this. Verse 2 says, “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.” Somewhere along the line, “the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden” (v. 8). And then, among the garden plants, God planted the man, to “work” the garden and “take care of it” (v. 15). The working God created the working human. We work because God does.

Here, then, lies your primary reason for working: to image God. Yes, image is a noun—but it's also a verb . Webster says the verb to image means to reflect or to mirror.

The crew of a submerged submarine cannot see the aircraft carrier that floats on the surface. So they depend on the images they can see through a periscope. The images are not the carrier itself, but they faithfully represent the carrier so that the crew can identify and deal with it.

Like that carrier, God is invisible. He is especially hidden to those still submerged in sin. But as one whose eye of faith has seen God in the face of Jesus Christ, you play a “periscope” role in your workplace. By the way you work—which includes the way you think, speak and act—you are there to mirror the true God. By observing you in your work habits, your co-workers should be able to catch glimpses of what the real God is like.

They may or may not eventually respond to God by trusting his Son. In either case, you serve God's purpose and please him simply by faithfully representing him and his work in the way you work. Up periscope!

Workplace Ministry