All over the world, for followers of Jesus, Easter Sunday was a culmination of a week of observances central to our faith – the joy of Palm Sunday, moving reflections on Maundy Thursday, and a heart-rending focus on the crucifixion of Jesus on Good Friday. On Easter Sunday, we celebrated Christ’s triumph over death as God raised him from the dead.
And then, most of us returned on Monday morning, to work.
What impact does the resurrection have on work, the activity to which we devote such a significant portion of our waking hours?
It can, and should, have a huge impact, especially for those of us endeavoring to lead missional enterprises!
The resurrection of Jesus is the “firstfruits” of resurrection for all who are in Christ (1 Corinthians 15:20) and, in view of our glorification, “the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Romans 8:21). The resurrection of Jesus makes the discipling aspect of missional enterprise possible and gives confident hope of eternal glory for all who come to faith in Christ.
But even our work itself and its transforming effect on the current world have a connection to the resurrection. The Bible suggests that there will be work in eternity, but it will be fulfilling and enjoyable, not toilsome or laborious. Revelation 22:3 states: “No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him.” In addition, author Randy Alcorn points out that:
Because there will be continuity from the old Earth to the new, it’s possible we’ll continue some of the work we started on the old Earth. We’ll pursue some of the same things we were doing, or dreamed of doing, before our deaths.
Finally, we may see direct connections between the physical work we do on earth, and what we find in the new heavens and the new earth. As theologian Walter R. Strickland II noted in his reflections on 1 Cor. 3:12–15,
we can infer that our work will be seen on the other side. Paul’s language is often read as speaking only to the fruit of our spiritual work, but perhaps the fruit of our physical work will greet us in the kingdom as well.
For a beautiful reflection on the connection between the crucifixion, our daily work, and the new heaven and new earth that is to come, check out the worship song “Wood and Nails,” part of a collection of worship songs about Christian vocation by the worship collective The Porter’s Gate.
Some of the key lyrics:
The work was done with nothing but
Wood and nails in Your scar-borne hands
O show me how to work and praise
Trusting that I am Your instrument
The kingdom’s come and built upon
Wood and nails gripped with joyfulness
So send me out, within Your ways
Knowing that the task is finished
The dead will rise and give You praise
Wood and nails will not hold them down
These wooden tombs, we’ll break them soon
And fashion them into flower beds
The curse is done, the battle won
Swords bent down into plowshares
Your scar-borne hands, we’ll join with them
Serving at the table You’ve prepared
Do you have a few minutes for one more worship song related to the work God has entrusted to us? Establish the Work of Our Hands is a rousing, soulful prayer and meditation on Psalm 90.
At the end of Paul’s treatise in 1 Corinthians 15 on Christ’s resurrection and our own future resurrection, Paul concludes with this encouragement:
“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)
Let’s meditate on this truth and allow the resurrection to impact our weekday work!