Does God Care If I Have a Job?
This lesson was piloted in April 2017 by Southern California Teen Challenge, in a program for men rehabilitating from drug addiction and prison. To see all lessons, go to the Men's Prison Curriculum Table of Contents.
This class will help you find a job. But it’s not just about finding a job. This class will also help you find the meaning and purpose behind a job, whatever that job may be.
Many people think of work as a curse, something terrible they have to do to make money. They may even ask God to save them from work. The great poet Langston Hughes once wrote, “I wish the rent was heaven sent.”
Even though many of us feel this way, a curse was not God’s original intention for work. God meant work to be fun and meaningful for people. God gave people important work to do, work that would make them feel productive and happy. Even though the world is polluted with sin, God’s intention for work hasn’t changed. In fact, God sent Jesus into the world to reclaim joy and purpose for his people. You may not think of joy or purpose when you think of work. This class will help change that.
Over the next few weeks we will talk about many problems people have with finding a job and keeping it. We will search the Bible for real life solutions. We will talk together about your past experiences with work, and your hopes for the future.
Discussion Question: What was the best job you ever had? What did you like about it?
First we have to begin at the beginning, by asking the question: Does God care if I have a job?
Work is very important to God. This is because God himself is a worker. In Genesis 1 God creates everything piece by piece. God made the earth when there wasn’t an earth before, just like a construction crew turns a vacant lot into a building people can use. God “made the dome” of the sky (Genesis 1:7) and set the lights of the sun and moon there (Genesis 1:17), like a roofer and an electrician on a gigantic scale. And of course, everything that God created was good.
God’s favorite piece of work was human beings. God created people to be like him, in his image. And just like God starts out the Bible as a worker, God created people to be workers too.
Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
God creates people with a job description in mind: ruling over his creation. In fact, the first time God talks to people it’s to give them instructions about their job.
God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.”
God tells people to do two things with his creation: rule over it and make something out of it. He wants people to take care of the world and also to make something of it. Just like God created everything out of nothing, God expects humans to create homes, buildings, and businesses out of the world he gave them.
Discussion Question: What do you think about these two Bible passages? Do they have anything to do with you today?
Because God created important work for people to do, working makes you feel important. Work makes you feel fully human. Work increases your self-respect and connects you with God who is a worker. If you feel good after you build something or fix something or clean something, it’s because it’s in your DNA to work. God made you that way.
But work isn’t always fun or fulfilling. In the real world it can be hard to find a job, exhausting to do the job you have, and difficult to make ends meet with the money you get. That’s because the world isn’t perfect like God created it. Sin in people and in society creates problems.
When God created the world he also created limits. In Genesis 1:31-2:2 God put a limit on himself, working for only 6 days and resting on the 7th. God also gave limits to people. When God gave Adam the job description of farmer (Genesis 2:15), God also set a limit. “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat.” (Genesis 2:16-17). Adam and Eve refused to follow God’s limits, so work became more difficult for them. Adam’s farming work, which had once made him a partner with God, became toil.
And to the man he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
If your work makes you sweat, or if it’s hard to put bread on the table, it’s because of this curse. Work itself isn’t cursed. But the ground is cursed because of Adam’s sin, and that makes work harder and less fulfilling.
Discussion Question: What is the hardest thing about working or finding a job?
In the fallen world we live in, finding a job, holding a job, and making ends meet can be tough. But Jesus offers hope. God sent Jesus to earth to cancel curses.
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us – for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree” – in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
Jesus took on the curse of sin so that every person who comes to faith also receives “the promise of the Spirit”. That’s a big deal. But it’s not the only thing God wants to do through Jesus. God also wants you to be free from failure. God wants you to be free from discipline by the law. And God wants you to be free from poverty. God promises to “fully satisfy every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).
Discussion Question: What would you like to be different in your life?
But God isn’t going to do this all on his own. Just like God made farming a joint effort between himself and people, God asks people to help with his plan for redemption. If work is going to be more fun, more satisfying, and more godly, you have to help make that happen. There are many biblical principles in this class. By learning these principles, you will learn how you can work with God to redeem work itself.
Jesus has high hopes for his followers.
“You are the light of the world. A city build on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”
Because you believe in Jesus, you carry God’s light with you everywhere you go. You can be part of God’s plan to fix the world of work. And God is ready to go out into the work world with you.
Discussion Question: What do you think, can work be redeemed for you? What would that look like?