Heaven Won't Be a Picnic

The Garden of Eden was no picnic. When God created Adam and Eve, he placed them in the Garden not to vacation, but to work. Before sin ever entered the picture, God formed Adam and Eve in his image, and called them to exercise dominion in the Garden of Eve.

We are called to create order from disorder, to cultivate, and till, and build. Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden of Eden not just to sip Mai Tais and binge on Netflix (not that there is anything wrong with that!); they were put there for the sake of dominion. God wanted caretakers who would craft, build, and create order.

We were made for work. We were made for dominion.

There are some interesting studies that reveal the impact of not working. It has been well documented that there are significant negative mental and emotional outcomes for those who are unemployed.[i] Anxiety rises and self-confidence drops which leads to an increase in substance abuse and violence against self and others.[ii] Consider, for instance, the unhealthy of the lives of those whose profession is to be famous, like the Kardashians.

We were made to work.

There is a 75 year longitudinal Harvard study that followed people to discover what factors made adults successful and healthy.[iii] When they looked back at the lives of these several hundred adults, they determined that one of the most significant determining factors for those who were successful was whether their parents had them do chores as kids. Simple work such as doing dishes and cleaning your room as a kid makes you a healthier and more successful adult.

We were made to work.

There have been a number of studies that have come out recently trying to determine the impact of retirement on health. There are conflicting results, but the one result that seems to hold is that retirement negatively impacts individual’s physical health.[iv]

We were made to work.

As I talked about in a post several months back, there is a shocking truth that escapes the notice of most Christians: when we go to heaven, we won’t stop working. We were made for work and in heaven we will get to experience work in the fulfilling and meaningful way God intended. Heaven isn’t (just!) a picnic, either. We don’t know exactly what this work will look like. We know at least two things about that work. In 1 Corinthians 6, Paul tells us that part of our job will be to judge the angels.[v] We also can presume there will be no jobs that deal with the effects of the fall. In other words, AC techs and plumbers and doctors will be finding new jobs. I imagine there will be a lot more dominion done in the area of art and athletics and science. We will create as we were intended to create.

So, how do we experience work as God intended in the here and now in the midst of the reality of the thorns, thistles and sweat? Next week I will engage people in different life circumstances: students, retirees, and everyone in between, and consider what wisdom looks like for you as you consider God’s call to work.

 Photo by Willian Justen de Vasconcellos on Unsplash

[i] http://www.apa.org/pi/ses/resources/indicator/2012/04/unemployment.aspx

[ii] https://www.lexisnexis.com/legalnewsroom/workers-compensation/b/workers-compensation-law-blog/archive/2009/06/25/the-psychological-impact-of-unemployment.aspx?Redirected=true

[iii] https://www.babble.com/parenting/harvard-study-benefits-chores-success-adult/

[iv] http://www.nber.org/papers/w12123; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4029767/.

[v] 1 Corinthians 6:3