Redeeming Work: What does that mean?

This is a guest post from Graham Hooper, author of A Better Way To Live and Undivided.

Sometimes people writing or speaking about faith & work use the term “redeeming work”. It’s not a term that appears in the Bible, and, to be honest, is often not well explained. I, for one, am left asking “What does that really mean in my work situation?”

In the Bible, to “redeem” means to rescue or deliver by payment of a price. Jesus Christ has paid the price to redeem us from our natural state of captivity to sin and its consequences in order to belong to him and to live for him.

But redemption has to be considered also in the context of the whole Biblical revelation of God’s plan and purpose. In terms of work it can be summed up rather crudely like this:

* In the beginning, at Creation, work was good, satisfying, enjoyable and fruitful
* When sin came (the Fall) work became hard, and often not enjoyable at all
* In the new heavens and new earth, work will once again be enjoyable and fruitful
* In the meantime we have a foretaste of that ultimate salvation, whilst still living in a fallen world as fallible sinful human beings

So the question then for us is this: In this "in between state", what does it mean to "redeem work"? What does it mean in practical terms to say that our work is part of that redemption?

Redemption means that we are rescued from slavery to freedom. And so our attitudes, behaviour, values, and application at work are also redeemed from something to something else. Or to put it another way, in some ways I experience God’s original creation purpose and a foretaste of the glory to come in my daily work in this broken world. Here are just 10 ways in which we might experience something of this in our work:

* From necessity to service
* From pointlessness to purpose
* From dissatisfaction to fulfilment 
* From slavery to freedom
* From alienation to connection 
* From failure to recovery
* From waste to blessing
* From isolation to relationship
* From pleasing myself to honouring God
* From success to fruitfulness

Ask yourself, in my work experience and in my current situation, how have I experienced God transforming my work, my attitude, my behavior, my ethics, my relationships in any or all of these  ways? You might want to sit down with a friend over a coffee, and with your Bible open, and work through these one by one. As you do, you will discover for yourself what “redeeming work” actually means and looks like in your context.

Image: realitybasedleadership.com