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In the final installment of this series, I want to, briefly, consider the question of how we, as followers of Christ, are to live within this story of family and work as human purpose. While the answer would vary for each individual, I can offer some general thoughts.

First, embrace family and work as not only the answer to life’s deepest question but also as the God ordain means by which you are to glorify Him and make Him known. Embrace it as your highest form of worship. Often, I think we get the idea that true worship of God are only things like singing hymns, praying, prophecy, tongues, reading the bible, or evangelism. All of these are important, but scripture never depicts them as our highest form of worship. Indeed, 1 Cor 13:8 tells us that some of these things will pass away in eternity. However, love ever ends. The love between God and man, between husband and wife, parent and child, and between brothers and sisters in Christ is eternal. Likewise, the love of work, of caring for and transforming this world will never end.

So, make sure to love your family well. Know that, through this love, you are offering up high worship to God and making Him known. Love your spiritual family in Christ, as this is how the outside world knows we are disciples of Jesus (John 13:35) and that we love our Father in heaven (1 John 4:20-21). Love your physical family, as this how human loneliness is eased and how the presence and rule of God is spread. I would go so far as to say that the latter should take precedence over the former. This is why I think the New Testament authors often emphasize household codes.[1] If, as a Christian, we can’t love our biological family to the glory of God, then our love and witness everywhere else is all an act.[2]

But what about when sin shatters the human family? When a husband leaves or a child dies? How do we navigate human purpose within a fallen world? Admittedly, this is a thorny issue that I don’t pretend to know exactly how to navigate. However, I can say that I think a lot of comfort can be taken in the words of Jesus in Matt 19:29:

And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.”

Like Job, the Lord promises the restoration of the familial bonds that sin breaks. Either through the new spiritual family of the church in this life or through the restoration of family in the next.

Likewise, Christians can live with purpose by remembering that our work is in service to the Lord to increase the splendor of His temple and His kingdom. Whatever God has gifted you with as far as interests or talents, pursue these with the knowledge that God has blessed you with it as a primary means of bringing glory to Himself.

But what if you work a job that you don’t like and find unfulfilling? Can purpose still be found in this work? I would contend that it can. Scripture calls us to glorify God in everything that we do (Col 3:23). A such, even in ordinary and mundane work, we can find purpose in the knowledge that it is beautifying God’s kingdom and magnifying His glory. Additionally, we all have hobbies we love that we find fulfillment in. Pursue these as well, knowing that this work adds to the complex culture that is our purpose and highest act worship.

I would like to end this series with a quote, one that has impacted me perhaps more than any outside the words of scripture, by Old Testament scholar J. Richard Middleton:

“We have the task of mediating the presence of God in the world…all creatures are called to worship God, but humans are called to worship God in a particular way – by being human. I really mean that. The stars worship God by being stars, the mountains by being mountains, humans by, not singing songs of praise, [but] by being human, part of which is to sing songs of praise, [but] it’s only a part; by using our God given power to transform the Earth into a complex civilization that glorifies God, which includes families, cities, government, technology, art, education, science, churches, etc. All human life is meant to be a transformation of this world that God might inhabit it by His Spirit, that it might be filled with His glory.”[3]

-David


[1] E.g. Col 3:18-4:1; Eph 5:21-6:9; Titus 2:1-10; 1 Peter 2:18-3:7

[2] Rex Shaver, “Submission part 2: 1 Peter 3” (sermon delivered at Pleasant View Baptist Church, Morganton, NC, June 16, 2019).

[3] J. Richard Middleton, “A New Heavens and a New Earth: For God So Loved the World” (lecture delivered at the Evangelical Theological Society, Atlanta, GA, November 19, 2015).