“occupation” Session 4:
Glory in the Midst of Toil
Read pages 113-178 of Garden City before beginning this lesson.
Revealing God’s Glory
The Hebrew Bible uses the word “kavod” to describe the glory of God. This word means, “weight” or “heaviness.” It implies that God’s glory is tangible, it’s weighty, it’s significant. This idea of “kavod” is most often expressed in His Presence and the beauty of His creation. Have you ever experienced this “kavod” or weighty glory of God? Think about the last time you stopped to take in a sunset or mountain vista. Did you feel something—a sense of God’s goodness? Our job, as Christians, is to reveal the glory of God —to bring people into encounters with the weighty Presence of God through the way that we live our lives. We can do this through our work. Remember that all work is creative by nature. Whatever you do, whether you’re a painter or a parent, your work is creative. It has the potential to bring glory to the God in whose image you are created.
1. Does what you do and how you do it draw people into encounters with God?
2. Think about the nature of God. What is He like? Is God hard-working? Patient? Joyful? How can you be an imitator of the attributes of God in your work? Does your on-the-job attitude bring glory to the God you imitate? Discuss in your small group.
Learning to Say “No”
Discipleship is about learning how to be a human who is fully alive. Jesus was not only the perfect picture of what God is like. He was also the perfect picture of what a man, fully alive, looks like. If you look at the life of Jesus, you will notice that he was incredibly focused on his calling. He knew who he was, which meant that he also knew who he wasn’t. By understanding His calling, Jesus was able to make powerful choices about what he would and would not do in order to fulfill his calling.
1. What are you saying “yes” to in order to fulfill your calling? What do you need to say “no” to protect this “yes”?
2. How can you prioritize your life in order to stop wasting time doing only “urgent” things, when you should be doing “important” things, as well.
3. Take some time to fill out an Eisenhower Matrix to help you organize your life. For a brief description of what this is and how to use it visit: https://www.eisenhower.me/eisenhower-matrix
(Pro Tip: For more information on how to build effective boundaries in your relationships, refer to the “Relationships” course, based on Danny Silk’s Keep Your Love On.)
The Curse of Toil
In order to have a fully developed theology of work, we must not only look at the creation account of Genesis 1 and 2, but also the Fall of chapter 3. In the Fall, the created order was subverted by evil, and cursed as a result. It is important to pay close attention to the wording of the curse in Genesis 3. As a result of the Fall, work has been cursed with difficulty. This does not mean that work itself is the curse. Remember that work existed as a blessing in Genesis 2. It does mean, however, that work post-Fall is not what God originally intended it to be. For many people, doing what they love for a living is not an option, especially in the developing world.
There is now a major disconnect between the concept of working for the delight of ruling and the reality of working for the sake of survival. In a fallen world, work is seen as either a curse in and of itself or a god constructed for our own self-glorification. This can be expressed in two ways: workaholism and living for the weekend.
1. Read the description of these two extremes on pages 165-167 of Garden City.
2. Which extreme to you gravitate towards? Discuss this in your small group.
Work is Not God
Remember that we were created to work with God, as His partners. Unfortunately, in a Post-Fall world, we now experience a “mixed-bag” of experiences when it comes to work. We experience the joy as well as pain—and all of it is to be used for the glory of God. The point is this: Nothing we do will ever truly satisfy our need for God apart from God Himself. Our frustrations with work only serve to remind us of this fact.
1. Take some time this week to search for God in the places you least expect Him to show up - in your work, in your rest, in your family. Seek Him and you will find Him, moving you forward in salvation from the curse to the blessing of resurrection.
2. Discuss how you can reveal God’s glory in overcoming the obstacles of toil.