How do the central Christian beliefs of a) being created and b) being created in the image of our creator affect how people live their lives? I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently and wanted to explore what exactly such beliefs mean when applied to daily action.
In Genesis, the triune God creates man. He says,
“‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on earth.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them… The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” Genesis 1:26-27, 2:15
If we are created, that means we don’t actually own anything. What’s the difference between owning and having dominion? To have dominion means humans are called to be good managers, good stewards of the earth and all that is in it. We are set up to take care of and work for the good of what God has created. That has obviously ecological implications (for more on that, read this terrific post). But how does being a steward of something that ultimately belong to us impact how we view our talents, how we work and how we use our time?
John Coltrane is an excellent example of how a believer can use his or her talents to bring glory to our creator. In Coltrane’s case, he brought glory to God by making well-crafted music. Ashley Kahn, music journalist at NPR, articulates how gifted Coltrane was:
“John Coltrane is one of those rare musical figures who transcends both his time and category. Today, in addition to jazz fans, rockers and rappers, head-bangers and hip-hoppers all swear their allegiance to him. And no album in his catalog reaches a wider audience than A Love Supreme, what he called his ‘humble offering to God.”
Coltrane writes about his offering in the liner notes of this album:
“During the year 1957, I experienced, by the grace of God, a spiritual awakening which was to lead me to a richer, fuller, more productive life. At that time, in gratitude, I humbly asked to be given the means and privilege to make others happy through music. I feel this has been granted through His grace… ALL PRAISE TO GOD.”
What a beautiful picture of what it looks like to use your talents to do your work well and glorify God in the process. How different school would look if we students saw our studies as an opportunity to do this. Giving glory to God gives meaning to even the most mundane jobs. And it also drives us to search for what we are passionate and gifted for. We are not making meaning out of nothing. We are not laboring in vain.
for more resources on work, check out this list.