Lesson Two: God the Father as a Worker – We can work like God works Part 1

Throughout human history we have see-sawed between the concept of a God (or gods) who is too much like us and a God who is too different from us.

The Greek and Roman gods were very near and present in everyday life.  They were helpful and harmful but always near and involved.  They were intimately involved in the needs of workers.  There were gods for the farmers and gods for the smiths and gods for generals.  But these were nothing more that super-humans.  They were just like people only stronger and more powerful.  They were sinful and vulnerable.  They were a mix of good and evil.  They were just like us only bigger.

Then you have the other side.  The Deist of the 1800’s developed this idea of God the best.  This God is a perfect being.  Completely separate and separated from the world.  This God is untarnished and unblemished by the strife of the Creation.  He is unchanging and immovable.  This God is perfect but being perfect must require him to be far and distant.  He is also inaccessible.  Even if we were able to contact this God, He is so utterly different that He is incomprehensible.  His ways are not our ways.  We are totally isolated from this type of God.

We have created these competing ideas about God.  On one hand we have Gods that are very useful and helpful and immediately present but they are not always powerful enough or good enough to do what is in our best interests.  Then on the other hand we have a God who is perfectly good and completely strong but is He close enough and caring enough and malleable enough to change circumstances for our benefit?

In the Christian Scriptures we see this tension but it is relieved not because of anything we have done but because of God’s own actions.  The Scriptures do reveal a God who is great and marvelous and incomprehensible to humanity.  Read Job for a great picture of God in this light.  But the Scriptures also reveal and are completely based on the assumption that in some small way this God has chosen to reveal himself to us in manners forms that we can understand.  We could never figure out God for ourselves.  God is too big for us to comprehend but God can reveal certain parts about himself in ways that make sense to us.  God can explain Himself to us.  And God does this through His creation, through the Scriptures and ultimately through Christ.  God is totally incomprehensible to us except for the parts He has explained.  God is a mystery but certain parts of that mystery have been explained.

For a brief moment we are going to focus on Genesis 1:26 – 31.  This will be a very important passage for us in Lesson 5 but for now we are only going to take one point out of it.

Focus Passage: Gen 1:26-31 (NET)

Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, after our likeness, so they may rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move on the earth.”  God created humankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them, male and female he created them.  God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply! Fill the earth and subdue it! Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and every creature that moves on the ground.”

Then God said, “I now give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the entire earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.  And to all the animals of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to all the creatures that move on the ground — everything that has the breath of life in it — I give every green plant for food.” It was so.  God saw all that he had made — and it was very good! There was evening, and there was morning, the sixth day.

A God who works creates humanity in His own image.  And then immediately after creating us, He gives us certain assignments.  The image of God in humanity has deep and meaningful significance.  Our value and worth are intimately tied to the fact that we are specifically created in God’s image.  The entire scope of what it means to be created in the image of God far exceeds this study, however; it is important (vital) to note that humanity being created in the image of God is directly and immediately connected to the assignments God has for us to do.  Our work is somehow dependent upon the image of God invested within us.  Our tasks of ruling, being fruitful, multiplying, filling and subduing is interwoven among four statements of being created in God’s image.

Being created in the image of God means in some small way that we “look” like God.  Being created in the image of God who works and then immediately assigned tasks to complete allows us to assume that we can “look” like God as we work.

So, If we can work like God works, how exactly does God work?

And as we examine How God works are there any points of comparison between God’s working and ours?

Just to make this idea about God working more manageable, let’s handle each person of the Trinity separately.  And let’s begin with God the Father.  The Bible uses many different figurative descriptions of the work God the Father has done, is doing and will do in the future.  Psalm 139:13 – 16 describes the God of the universe as a weaver.  John 15:1 – 8 describes God as a vinedresser and gardener.  Psalm 23 calls God our shepherd.  Jeremiah 18:1 – 10 sees God as a potter.  In Isaiah 1:24, 25 God is a smith or a metalworker.  These are just a small sample of some of the ideas expressed in Scripture about God’s work.  In board sweeping general terms we can categorize God the Father’s work into two categories:  His creative work and His sustaining work.

Let’s examine a few specific verses about God the Creator.

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

Genesis 2:2 And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.

Genesis 2:4 These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens.

Hebrews 11:3 By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

Romans 4:17 as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”–in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.

What are some of the characteristics of God’s creative work?  What are some of the necessary skills God must possess in His person to be creative?

Do you see the work you do as requiring the same type of skills and actions that God used when He was creative?

How is your creativity within your work environment like God’s?  How is it different?

How can your creativity within the parameters of your work lead you to worship God?

Let’s examine a few specific verses about God the Sustainer.

Act 14:17 Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.

Psalms 104:10-30

You make springs gush forth in the valleys; they flow between the hills;

They give drink to every beast of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst.

Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell; they sing among the branches.

From your lofty abode you water the mountains; the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work.

You cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring

forth food from the earth

and wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine and bread to strengthen man’s

heart.

The trees of the LORD are watered abundantly, the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.

In them the birds build their nests; the stork has her home in the fir trees.

The high mountains are for the wild goats; the rocks are a refuge for the rock badgers.

He made the moon to mark the seasons; the sun knows its time for setting.

You make darkness, and it is night, when all the beasts of the forest creep about.

The young lions roar for their prey, seeking their food from God.

When the sun rises, they steal away and lie down in their dens.

Man goes out to his work and to his labor until the evening.

O LORD, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of

your creatures.

Here is the sea, great and wide, which teems with creatures innumerable, living things both small

and great.

There go the ships, and Leviathan, which you formed to play in it.

These all look to you, to give them their food in due season.

When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are filled with good

things.

When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die and

return to their dust.

When you send forth your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the ground.

Deu 11:1-7 You shall therefore love the LORD your God and keep his charge, his statutes, his rules, and his commandments always.  And consider today (since I am not speaking to your children who have not known or seen it), consider the discipline of the LORD your God, his greatness, his mighty hand and his outstretched arm,  his signs and his deeds that he did in Egypt to Pharaoh the king of Egypt and to all his land, and what he did to the army of Egypt, to their horses and to their chariots, how he made the water of the Red Sea flow over them as they pursued after you, and how the LORD has destroyed them to this day, and what he did to you in the wilderness, until you came to this place, and what he did to Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, son of Reuben, how the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households, their tents, and every living thing that followed them, in the midst of all Israel.  For your eyes have seen all the great work of the LORD that he did.

What are some of the characteristics of God’s sustaining work?  What are some of the necessary skills God must possess in His person to sustain things?

Do you see the work you do as requiring the same type of skills and actions that God used when He was sustaining things?

How are you sustaining things within your work environment like God?  How is it different?

How can you sustaining things within the parameters of your work lead you to worship God?

Final Questions:

Do you see your work as more creative or sustaining?

How does it make you feel that God in some way has worked or continues to work in a similar fashion to your work?

Does that significantly change how you look at your job?

What is one thing that you will change this week because you now see that you can work like God works?

Conclusion:  God works.  Because we were created in the image of God we can work in some small way like God works.  God the Father is creative and sustaining in His work.  We can be both creative and sustaining in our work like God.

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About Brian Musser

Rev. Brian Musser is the Baptist Campus Minister at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA. View all posts by Brian Musser

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