“Work to live or live to work?” We know how we should answer. The testimony of our lives is probably another matter. But let’s ask the question of God – because I would guess that our unspoken assumption is that, basically, God lives to work.
You see, for many people, “Creator” is God’s most basic job description. If He’s not fine-tuning the cosmological constants, or priming the charges for the big bang, or pulling the heavenly levers, or keeping the wheels of providence well-oiled, then, well, what are we paying our taxes for anyway?! If His role in life isn’t to keep the show on the road, what could it possibly be?’
I recently read a debate between Richard Dawkins and Ruth Gledhill, the Times’ religious affairs correspondent. They were discussing Stephen Hawking’s new book – a book that claims we don’t need a Creator. At one point Gledhill asked “could there be another role for a deity beyond creation?” Dawkins responded, “I can’t even imagine what that would mean.” This reflects a very common perception that “God equals Creator without remainder.”
But, as with every misconception we have about God, this says more about us than it does about Him. We project our own work-ethic into the sky and expect God to play by the rules. But He doesn’t. God rests. And we find that quite difficult to understand.
Yet think of our very first phrase on day 1: “In the beginning”. There was a time (a very long time!) when God was not Creator. Originally God was not in manufacturing. He entered that vocation in later life.
In our case, we are driven to workaholism because we don’t know who we are apart from performing, producing and providing. But God has no such identity crisis. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit have known each other in love long before they knew each other in labours.
So as we enter chapter two of Genesis, we’re again reminded that “Creator” is not the fundamental truth about God. Here is a God who rests from His work. And this is not an abdication, it’s a consummation.
God’s activity reaches a goal. You see creation is not a wheel that must be kept turning. It is a work that comes to completion. The seventh day (the Hebrew word is Sabbath) shows that there’s an ‘end’ to creation. And by ‘end’ we mean, most basically, a goal. There is not endless work. There is not cosmic burnout. There is fulfilment. There is rest.
Can you rest? Or is your life all about performing, producing and providing? I wonder whether your picture of God might be shaping your work habits.
Certainly God works. Indeed Christ’s mighty work of redemption cost Him immeasurable blood, sweat and tears. But the work was not the point. The work leads to rest. More specifically, His work leads to your rest. And today you’re invited to rest in Him:
Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him. (Psalm 37:7)
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