Home Market EconomyELLIS: Why our natural desire to work evidences the image of God

ELLIS: Why our natural desire to work evidences the image of God

The coronavirus isn’t the only thing in the past weeks described as novel. For most of us, the unplanned stay-at-home recommendations to help flatten the curve is a novel way of life we are temporarily thrust into. Many can’t work from home, and even those who can are limited. But the ingenuity of the human spirit still flourishes, and human beings are finding innovative and creative ways to work while social distancing.
 
Working—creating, innovating, producing, investing—is essential to our humanity, even if the government doesn’t deem a particular job or vocation “essential” in its civic metric. We have an innate desire to not just survive, but to thrive and to work. For many of us, the adjustment is not one of actual physical survival, yet even the independently wealthy desire to get back to work.
 
Why? Some anthropologists or social scientists might attribute this to an economic urge to attain wealth, possession, or status, or simply providing for family (none of these things are wrong), but the Bible tells us something more fundamental about human beings and our relationship to our work.
 
God Himself is the Creator. This beautiful Name for God is not limited to just the beginnings in Genesis, but is acknowledging one of His eternal attributes. God is always creating, designing, and active.
 
Isaiah 43:19 speaks of God’s ever-present Creator nature, when He says to Israel, “Behold, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up, do you not perceive it?” In this same chapter, the Lord refers to Himself as the Creator and us as His creation, “whom I created for My glory, whom I formed and made” (v.7).
 
Genesis 1:27 says, “So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them.” Because we are human beings made in the Image of God (Imago Dei) and we desire to be like Him, it is an essential part of our humanity to also create.
 
Work or tasking itself of course can at times be unpleasant, but I’m speaking of our shared fundamental satisfaction in accomplishing, creating and producing. Work defined in this sense does not always have to be for profit or how the rest of the world defines success. Look at the many parents and families across the country taking joy in teaching their children, preparing a meal, or enjoying a hobby while staying at home together. This is all part of creating too, as His creation.
 
This also sets us apart as human beings made in the Image of God, as we creators go beyond mere survival like the animals. We appreciate beauty, design, elegance, and craftsmanship. Psalm 19:1 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the skies proclaim His handiwork.” We see the inherent design in the world around us—the handiwork of our Creator—and we likewise create. Much like the little child who pushes the toy lawnmower beside the father, we also mimic the attributes we see in our Heavenly Father, and we enjoy it.
 
When President Trump said “we aren’t built to be shut down,” he was acknowledging the American virtue and value of being productive and free market enterprise, which likewise reflects and encourages this innate desire to find satisfaction in work and self-provision. Ecclesiastes 3:13, “And everyone should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God.”
 
When we aren’t working and creating, studies show that human beings become depressed and discouraged. This understanding of our Imago Dei is also why America was founded to encourage ingenuity and entrepreneurship. The American Experiment fosters opportunity and growth, not entitlement. We want to work and take satisfaction in our accomplishment!
 
There are many lessons that will come from this unique challenge in America with the coronavirus. Let’s always remember why our opportunity to work is so meaningful and that it is a reflection of God Himself in us. And today, there are still many ways to enjoy and create while not fully functional at our regular work. We will all be much happier if we find ways to create and be productive while we are staying at home.
 
After all, we are designed by our Creator to enjoy it!