Resurrection @ Work—the Surprising Significance


I bet you wonder. Whether you wait tables each day, help patients at the hospital, fix cars, or juggle kids plus your in-home office—whatever you do—I bet you wonder. Does anything I do in my daily work have lasting, eternal significance? The answer to this question is surprisingly, inextricably linked to Jesus’ bodily resurrection.

People readily anticipate that Michelangelo’s marvelous Sistine ceiling might last into Christ’s final kingdom. I was first introduced to the concept of future redemption for creative works in my fine arts course in college. I shrugged. I am no Michelangelo. In recent years, more scholars have posited that redemption’s reach might not be exclusively for the artists. What if your own daily work could have lasting significance, even a literal lasting, based on Creation’s “groaning for glory” and the cosmic redemption foretold in God’s grand story (Romans 8)?

Revelation 21-22 paints amazing frescoes of the eternal kingdom. Sin, death, pain, disease, tears, and all that perpetuated the curse are wiped away so all things become new. The thorns and thistles, germs and disease, ravages of war and violence, less-than-stellar work outcomes, what was done for selfish, greedy, and idolatrous reasons instead of aiming to bring him glory—all of it will be wiped clean, making way for the transformed, new creation. The prophetic prequel in Isaiah 65:17-25 also speaks of very tangible, ongoing work. Houses will be built; vineyards will flourish; financial portfolios will show great gains. There will be very earthy, ordinary stuff in this new, eternal kingdom.

Resurrection’s Long-term Significance for Your Work

You’re probably still wondering: Really? And what in the world does this have to do with the Resurrection? Consider this: Jesus’ resurrection presents a foretaste, a sneak peek at what is yet to come. After Christ was raised, he had a glorified body—a fully redeemed physical body. Scenes from Luke’s account note that it was still very tangible. His followers recognized him; he ate broiled fish; he showed scars; he could be touched; he worked to teach and enlighten, producing changed insight in others; he built a fire and cooked breakfast on the beach (John 21)—all very typical, earthy expressions. In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul argues that Christ is the first in the lineup of resurrection and redemption, and we will someday follow in that same train of redemptive resurrection. Our bodies will be raised up and redeemed.

So, a number of heavy-hitter scholars have said, “If we will have glorified bodies, AND if all of Creation will be redeemed as Paul declares in Romans 8 (after so long groaning for glory), doesn’t it make sense this must include certain outcomes of our work?” Perhaps this is why Paul concludes 1 Corinthians 15 with this passionate injunction: “Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.” (Explore further insights in Darrell Cosden’s, The Heavenly Good of Earthly Work, Paternoster Press, 2006.)

So What If?

People have postulated that musical scores such as Handel’s Messiah, hymns like Amazing Grace, and some colossal architecture that stands the test of time—like the Winchester Cathedral—might pass through the cleansing fire (2 Peter 3) and thus hold redeemed significance, to the glory of God.

But WHAT IF the house you constructed with solid craftsmanship, or the real estate deal you worked with amazing care and energy—to serve both God and that family that needed to move into a safer home—what if the tangible results of those labors might also last, to be marvelously redeemed? Or what about the financial planning Dale has helped our family do for the past twenty years? Or what if the life-skills counsel you supplied for that troubled teen finally came to beautiful fruition in her life, OR what if . . .

Some of you are saying, “Wow, that’s out there. I don’t know, Pletch.” OK, I invite you to simply contemplate and dare to ask, what if Creation’s redemption might truly reach that far? Remember that God’s kingdom work is humongous, and I can’t help but imagine that he has some amazing surprises in store for us. New heavens and earth, complete with the Garden-City, appear to have dimensions that already exceed our normal comprehension of distance and capacity (Revelation 21-22). What if the eventual kingdom is actually more down-to-earth than our all-too-common, Star Wars-like fantasies, where everyone is dressed in white, zooming around in heavenly outer space? What if it includes more lasting, physical work outcomes than we have ever imagined?

Perhaps as we contemplate, we can gain perspective by reflecting and joining Moses’ heart cry:

Let your work be shown to your servants, and your glorious power to their children. Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!

Psalm 90:16-17 (ESV)

Service @ Work—It’s More than Smart Business!


My favorite tire store on the planet is Creamery Tire, just north of Collegeville, PA. WHY? All they do is tires, but they do “all things tires” with amazing service. Customers are in and out in fifteen minutes from the time their vehicle hits the service bay. Worker bees attack your car. Mounting and balancing are FREE. When was the last century you received such incredible tire installation? Oh, and lifetime repairs and rotating come FREE with every purchase. Did I mention I think they are absolutely the best tire shop—ever?!

I’m sure you’ve had the experience at some business—great service—and you tell everyone. Serving through our work is actually a rich, soulful concept. God’s original creation intention, when he placed the humans in the garden, was that they “work” it (Genesis 2:15). The ancient Hebrew word, translated in this verse as “work” is also translated across the rest of the biblical story as “serve” and “worship.” There is a thick service thread throughout all of God’s grand story. Isaiah 42:1-9 carries the same language, a prophecy of the Servant of the Lord. Matthew, reflecting on Jesus’ passionate healing work (yes, even his irreverent work on the Sabbath), insists that Jesus was the messianic fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophetic clip (Matthew 12:15-21).

Is it any wonder that the Apostle Paul correlated Christ’s attitude as essential to the life of a Christ-follower? He insists that Christ’s service perspective is vital (Philippians 2:3-7) and should deeply effect our actions in our workplaces. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart . . . it is the Lord Christ you are serving.” (Colossians 3:23-24)

Most of us readily recognize that a superb service-orientation is smart business. Just review my rant above over Creamery Tire. What we might not as readily remember is that passionate service in our daily work matters for another big reason: When we serve with Christ-honoring passion, we reflect doggone deep discipleship. You are actually growing and living more like Christ, your Creator (Colossians 1:16-17).

On such biblical basis, Ken Eldred declares: “The real goal of business is simply this: to serve others to the glory of God. Note that this objective places one’s business activity squarely within the overriding command Jesus gave us for life—to love God with everything we have and to love our neighbors—our fellow humans—as we love ourselves.” (The Integrated Life, p. 44)

Our service-orientation should be more than noble intentions and warm platitudes. I’ll suggest the following questions to propel your service to new places, both in attitude and actions. Ask these with your key team leaders in the coming days:

  • What should we innovate, create anew and make beautiful by way of our workplace culture, in order to better serve others?
  • What do I need to embrace that’s mundane and messy, but when I do this, it blesses people, connects them with God’s love, and they rise to a higher place?
  • Where do I need to slow down—to re-think and re-format—what I am doing and how I am interacting with both people and tasks? (Am I blowing people off just to get my task-list accomplished?)
  • How should my language & attitude change to be more loving and service-oriented? Beware of doing the right things with the wrong ‘tude.

One evening, after my wife had killed it fixing this amazing meal, I insisted on doing dishes. (It seemed like the right, serving thing to do.) ‘Problem was, I was tired and stressed, and before too long, I was rushing, slamming and bamming the dishes from the sink to the counter. Suddenly, Nanc’ put her arm on my shoulder, took the dishtowel from my hands and said, “I think someone needs a timeout. Let’s save the dishes.” Beware of doing the right things, even the service thing, but with the wrong attitude.

  • How can my service EXCEL, to go to the next level? Who should I hire new and how should we supply training in stronger habits of service? Let service-orientation permeate all your planning, both short-range and long-term initiatives.
  • How can what my business is doing serve to bring justice, make right a wrong, enact God’s will, and change darkness to light? A huge Jesus-style question to use at work: What’s the hurt—how do we work with God to heal that hurt? When we ask such a question in our workplaces, we can actually start to work with God’s agenda, to change disease to health, poverty to flourishing, sleaze to holiness, bondage to freedom, and even weeping and mourning to joy and dancing.

Your service at work is not just smart business. It’s doggone deep discipleship! Let’s follow Christ’s footsteps of serving. After all, “even the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28).