It’s hard to jump into a new television series in season 3. You have no context for the characters, why they act the way the do, how they’re connected to one another, or where they’re going. Perhaps you can piece together enough to get your bearings, but you miss so much depth in the storyline by beginning in the middle.
Thanks to Hulu, Netflix, and other streaming services, starting a TV series mid-stream is now a thing of the past. Unfortunately, when it comes to understanding our everyday work from a Christian standpoint, most of us have jumped in at “season 3.” We’re only viewing a small portion of the Grand Storyline. We’ve “started in the middle,” and so we lack context and struggle to find meaning. We don’t know where the story began or where it’s heading, and perhaps worst of all, we haven’t even identified the main character yet.
If we want good “work theology,” if we want to discover how our faith and our day-jobs collide, we have to go back to the beginning. We have to re-discover the origins. We have to place our current reality inside a much Bigger Plot.
When most of us think of faith and work, we primarily think about applying “biblical principles” to our current work experience. We pick out moral teachings on greed and honesty, leadership examples like Nehemiah “rebuilding the walls,” or practical wisdom from Proverbs, and try to implement them like a how-to manual of tips, suggestions, or inspiration. And that’s a noble pursuit.
But ultimately, these efforts are more about trying to write God into our stories rather than understanding we have been so graciously written into His. We are living in the unfolding storyline of God’s Grand Narrative! But our self-absorption zeroes in on our individual chapters, and so we’re never able to grasp the full meaning and depth of what’s really happening or the roles we’ve been designed to play.
Before we can talk about the practical, everyday reality of faith and work, we have to zoom out. Way out. We have to see the whole arc of God’s storyline clearly. If you want more meaning in your work, more purpose in your 8-5, less dread when the alarm goes off on Monday morning, you first have to place your story inside of God’s story.
Creation >> Fall >> Redemption >> Consummation
Why did God create us in the first place? What in the world went wrong? What did God do to fix it? Where is all this heading?
These aren’t new questions or discoveries, they’re recapturing the historical roots of Christianity from which everything beautiful grows. The faith and work journey starts here.
This article was originally posted at The Stone Table, a resourcing community for faith, work, and missions.