Your job doesn’t matter. Your house doesn’t matter. Your kid’s baseball game doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters, in eternity, is what we are doing right here, today.”
As soon as the pastor uttered these words, I cringed. I know what he meant. I knew his intentions were honorable and that he cares about advancing the gospel among the nations. But his words, a stirring call to mission, stung so deeply in my teenage heart. I thought immediately of my father, a man not specifically called to vocational ministry. A man who labored everyday as a plumber in the kind of work the pastor “didn’t think mattered.” What must Dad be thinking, other than the calling for which he’d given his life is somehow inconsequential? By this logic, when God was handing out vocations, he left my father on the spiritual junior varsity team.
This kind of rhetoric and preaching is, sadly, commonplace among evangelicals. It comes from a deeply rooted desire to see the lost find new life in Christ. I’m glad evangelicalism has been characterized by a fervent passion for souls. And yet I fear that in our zeal to share our faith, we’ve offered, at times, a half gospel. We’ve stripped the eternal significance of our daily lives in a way that is inconsistent with God’s revelation in Scripture.
At times labor seems fruitless, frustrating, and soul crushing. But in the gospel story, there is good news for our work.
The creation narrative in Genesis tells us that our work matters to God, not simply as a utilitarian means to an end (tithing, witnessing, providing), but because the work itself is a good gift from a gracious God. Work is part of the creation mandate, a fulfillment of the uniquely human calling to have dominion over the earth. When we sculpt and build, design and construct, dream and make, we actually project the image of the ultimate Creator.
This is still true, even in a fallen world. Sin, of course, has severely corrupted our callings. At times labor seems fruitless, frustrating, and soul crushing. But in the gospel story, there is good news for our work. Just as Jesus renews and recreates our hearts by the Spirit of God in salvation, He is doing so to the created order as well. In Ephesians, Paul tells us that the gospel work in us restores us to the work we were originally designed to perform (Eph. 2:10). God has not given up on the mandate He offered in Genesis. He’s sent Christ to restore it.
This means that the earth’s destruction described in 2 Peter 3:10 refers, not to God blowing up His project and starting over, but to a refining fire that removes the corruption and dross of sin. Paul elaborates on this in 1 Corinthians 3:12-13. The work we do will endure, but only if and when we do work for the glory of God instead of our own satisfaction.
So your Monday tasks in the factory, the school room, or the dentist’s office matter for more reasons than you might realize. You are working, not simply as an employee of your company, but as a citizen of God’s kingdom. What you do with your unique gifts and talents will, in some form, endure forever. We might, then, view life on earth—though short, fleeting, and broken—as an internship of sorts for the kingdom to come. This future hope should shape our workday perspective as we labor in the present yet look toward eternity.
Imagine an environment free of the thorns of futility and frustration. Imagine heaven as the ideal workshop or studio or kitchen where you can peacefully glorify God and fulfill His creation mandate. Imagine labor alongside perfected saints, without the drama and politics sown into our relationships by sin.
So in some ways, the pastor was right. Our daily jobs don’t matter in the way we think they do. But in many other ways, he was wrong. Our jobs matter more than we think they do. And the gospel we preach doesn’t make our vocations irrelevant. It makes them more important than we can imagine.