As we continue to examine work in the light of the Trinity, the intimacy of our knowledge about God will be important. We can only know about God through what He has chosen to reveal to us. God is a mystery until he explains Himself. The primary way God has chosen to explain Himself is through the incarnation, Jesus Christ, God the Son, presenting God to us in a form that we can understand. One of the problems we have in understanding the God of the universe is that we often ask the wrong question. We ask; “What is God?” To answer this question we come up with metaphors using water or other physical things. Instead we should ask; “Who is God?” This question will lead us to answers that are substantially different. Instead of trying to compare God to objects we should describe Him as a person. The best answer we have ever received to the question “who is God?” is very simple. God is Jesus. If you want to know about God then you need to learn who Jesus was.
So, it goes without saying that if we want to learn about how God works we need to study the work of Jesus. Just as we see Scripture talking about God as a worker we can also examine the work of Jesus. Although, there are probably innumerable different possibilities of distinction in the work of Christ, I have chosen to focus on two large ideas for this study: Christ as Redeemer and Christ as Communicator
Christ the Redeemer:
Throughout the Scriptures we see God the Son as the redeemer. Sometimes we look at redemption in solely a Spiritual way. We only talk about the redemption of our souls. This redemption is what eternally reconnects us with God and is the central aspect of our faith. However; there are redemptive processes in our everyday lives. We can be redemptive like Christ even though we have no power to redeem others from their sins. Our ability to redeem is so much smaller than Jesus’ but it still does exist. We can act redemptively. Our work can be redemptive. Let’s look at some of the verses from Scripture that show Christ’s redemption. As we do this ask yourself some basic questions: What are the tasks associated with redemption? What character traits and skills does one need to be redemptive? What are the effects of a redeemer? If we think about Christ’s redemptive acts through those questions we may see how we can work like God.
Job 19:25 I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.
I include this verse to show that the Redeemer, who is later identified as Jesus Christ, God the Son, was not only a New Testament reality but also in the Old Testament. Job is one of the oldest books of the Bible and within it is this idea of a redeemer. This idea gives Job hope and the ability to persevere. The fact that someday, someone will change things, someone will make things right gives Job the ability to keep going. It gives him hope in his desperation. Just the possibility of redemption brings people hope.
Colossians 1:13-14 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Redemption leads to change. There has to be an evaluation aspect to things. The redeemer has to be able to say things are not the way they should be. Then the redeemer needs to be able to see, remember or imagine a better way. A redeemer needs to be able to know what is broken and have a vision of how to fix it.
In your job do you ever have the responsibility to point out things that are not working properly? These can be either physical, informational or social structures. Do you ever have to say “this is broken?” When you do that you are taking the first step toward being redemptive. Then do you ever have the responsibility to propose a way to fix that which is broken? This is the second part of redemption. Seeing what’s wrong and imagining how to fix it.
2 Corinthians 5:21 God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we would become the righteousness of God.
However, there is a third piece to being redemptive. Christ saw that we were separated from God by our sins. This was unacceptable. Then He imagined, created, made a way for the situation to be changed and humanity to be reconciled to God. This took an investment by Christ. Christ sacrificed his resources, to the very point of himself to provide a way for our redemption. After you have identified something that is wrong and imagined how to fix, then you need to use some of your personal resources to fix it. When you do these things you are being redemptive. You are working like God the Son works.
What are some of the characteristics of Christ’s redemptive work? What are some of the necessary skills and attributes Christ must possess in His person to be redemptive?
Do you see the work you do as requiring the same type of skills and actions that Christ used when He was redemptive?
How do you act redemptively within your work environment? How are your actions like Christ? How are they different?
What types of professions would you see as being at their core redemptive or restorative?
How can your redemptive actions within the parameters of your work lead you to worship God?
We can highlight several key parameters of what it means to work redemptively. 1) There is dissatisfaction with the way things are. 2) There is an imaginative response creating the image of the way things should be. 3) There is a sacrifice of personal resources to change things from the way things are to the way things should be.
Christ the Communicator:
This is one that might need some explanation. God the Son is the Word of God. He is the communication of who God is the entirety of creation. God the Son is the example for humanity of how to relate to God as a human being. The word for this type of communication is revelation. Jesus has revealed God to us.
In reference to Jesus Christ, John refers to Him as the Word. And as John 1:14 and 18 says “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth…. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.” Christ came to make God the Father known. Christ is the Word that communicates God the Father in a way that makes it possible for us to know and understand Him.
In Colossians 1:15 Paul writes of Christ, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” Christ is the exact likeness of God. I find it fascinating that both verbal and visual metaphors are used in describing how Christ communicates God the Father to humanity.
Christ, through His life, death and resurrection makes in general the Trinity available for our understanding. He communicates to us the infinite, omnipotent, all-loving, holy, eternal, omnipresent Trinity to us the only way we could possibly understand. He is the Word of God and the image of God.
What are some of the characteristics of Christ’s work of revelation? What are some of the necessary skills and attributes Christ must possess in His person to reveal God to us?
Do you see the work you do as requiring the same type of skills and actions that Christ used when He revealed things to us?
How do you reveal and communicate to others within your work environment? How are your actions like Christ? How is it different?
What types of professions would you see as being at their core based on revelation and communication?
How can your revelation within the parameters of your work lead you to worship God?
Christ needed to intimately know God. Jesus says in Matt. 11:27 “All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son decides to reveal him.” Jesus is able to communicate God to us because He knew God. If you think about God the Son being omniscient that would mean that God the Son knew God the Father as well as God the Father knew Himself. This consistency of knowledge within the Trinity has huge implications on what it means to be three-in-one. For our purposes we can draw the conclusion that to be a communicator you must know what you are communicating. A corollary to that is the better you know a subject the better you will be able to communicate it.
Also, we see in this verse the need for the decision to communicate. Christ decides to reveal. To truly communicate we need to decide to communicate. There is a lot of non-verbal and accidental communication that exists. We often communicate things that we do not intend, however; this unintentional communication is not work. It is accident. Christ chose to communicate God to us. That choice resulted in several other decisions. He chose to put Himself in a place that communication was possible. He chose to use a form that made understanding possible. Christ decided to reveal God. We must also decide to communicate. This decision will lead to other decisions about how to communicate.
So those decisions on how to best communicate require knowledge not only the subject trying to be communicated but also who we are trying to be communicated to. Christ not only needed to know how to “talk” about God but He needed to know how to “talk” to people. Christ was excellent with this. John 7:46 The officers answered, “Never man spake like this man.” Christ knew who he was talking to.
In order to communicate you need to know what you are talking about, who you are talking to and make the decision to talk. Now how is this applicable to our work situations? 1) As we try to learn our area of expertise, more intimate with our subject the more we can communicate in a “Christ-like” manner. 2) Our decisions to communicate will lead to other decisions that will put us in place to communicate. This can be viewed in a small way of Christ being incarnated so that we could understand who God is. 3) As we examine those we are trying to communicate with we can aspire to the image of God at work in us. Learning about the nature of humanity (generally) or the concerns of those persons (specifically) that allows us to communicate more like Christ.