Three Ways the Resurrection Changes the Meaning of Our Work

April 14th, 2019

For many of us, Monday’s ordinary daily work will be the farthest thing from our minds on Easter Sunday. That’s a shame, because the resurrection is not only about our future hope. It applies to and changes life even now. Christ’s resurrection means at least three things for how we live and work today.

1. Christ’s resurrection affirms the goodness and ultimate value of the material world.

The resurrection is God’s ultimate Yes to the material world that He created. Resurrection tells us that physical existence is not some temporary, finally to be thrown away, stage for humans. It is our eternal destiny.
Material life matters to God. Jesus resurrected body is incarnate still, and His physical body will be living with us forever. God made us in his image. According to Colossians 1, the physical Christ, the human divine one, fully embodies that image. Through Christ our physical lives are given God’s thumbs up. We are meant to be this way and all that is a part of our physical life matters to God. In God’s image, we were created to reflect Him in our daily lives as His co-workers (Genesis 1:26-28). Central to this, is the call to work which in turn becomes central to our human identity. Resurrection of the whole person, our whole identity, therefore, includes our “working selves.” God entrusts us with something worthwhile now. Resurrection confirms that what we do daily in our physical life, including our work, matters to God for eternity. 

2. Christ’s resurrection demonstrates a continuity between the present world and the new creation.

The New Creation described in Revelation 21-22 isn’t a replacement creation, but a transformed and healed this-creation. The world, just as Christ’s body, is somehow preserved, renewed, restored, and transformed into something beautiful and fit for eternity. The New Jerusalem is like this too. It is a city—not the original Garden of Eden returned, but the ultimate symbol of human culture transformed—and “People will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations.” (Rev. 21:26) All good things from human work and culture will have a place in the New Heavens and the New Earth. Resurrection tells us that our work matters because, transformed by God, it will last.​

3. Christ’s resurrection is a sign that the New Creation, while not fully realized, has been initiated.

Our work matters because, having been redeemed and transformed, it carries over from this world to the world to come. Of course, we don’t completely understand how this will happen, any more than we fully understand how Christ’s resurrection transformed his body. Nevertheless, while our work is already redeemed through Christ’s work on the cross, it isn’t yet fully restored until Christ returns. We live in an “already, but not yet fully” redeemed world. We live between the resurrection and his return. This is why all the work we do in the present matters. By working as God’s redeemed people, we can give others a glimpse of the way things are supposed to be. We are foreshadowing God’s ultimate work of restoration when he will truly make all things new—and better than we can imagine.
As we celebrate Easter and affirmed again that “He has risen,” let’s also remember the Apostle Paul’s admonition and encouragement in 1 Corinthians 15. After a long discussion of both Christ’s resurrection and our own future bodily resurrection, he writes,

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. (1 Cor. 15:58)

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QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Have you considered what it means to your physical life that Jesus is eternally incarnate? When have you taken time to celebrate the physical world as God's gift to us? Have you experienced the "already, not yet" reality of the new creation in your work? What might that look like?

PRAYER: Father, thank you for the physical world. As broken as it is, we have hope because of Christ's resurrection. Help me go to work each day working for and hoping to see some breakthrough of the New Creation in the ordinary tasks that make up much of my day.

Dr. Darrell Cosden is the author of The Heavenly Good of Earthly Work.

Channel(s): Calling and Career