Before the book of Revelation is even a few verses old, John says something that might seem to undercut a robust theology of work: “The time is near!” Some take this to mean that John thought Jesus was coming right away in his lifetime and that he got it wrong; others believe it means that once the end-time events start happening, they will move quickly. Neither of these fit well with the rest of the New Testament, since it is clear that, in some sense, the “end times” begin with the death and resurrection of Jesus (see Heb. 1:1; 1 Cor. 10:11; Acts 2:17). So it is best to take “The time is near” to mean “God’s kingdom is in your face!” with the implicit question, “How then are you going to live?” The apparent certainties of everyday life must be seen against the kingdom of God, which is already breaking into the world.
This has profound consequences for our view of work. While there is much in Scripture to commend work, nothing in the present state of affairs should be viewed as absolute. As we will see, work done faithfully for God’s glory has enduring value, but God must always be allowed the first and final word. Living in light of his values is critical; there can be no compromise with the world system and its idolatrous ways.