Redeeming Work: What does it mean? – Graham Hooper

Originally posted at Life@Work here.

Sometimes people writing or speaking about ‘Faith and Work’ use the term ‘Redeeming work’. It’s not a term that appears in the Bible, and 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 ‘whose service is perfect freedom’. What then does it mean in practical terms to say that our work is part of that redemption?

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 the 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 heaven and earth, work will once again be enjoyable and fruitful.
  • In the meantime, as we live in the time between Jesus’ death and resurrection, and his promised return, we have a foretaste of that ultimate salvation whilst still living in a fallen world as fallible sinful human beings.

So, the question: in this ‘in between state’, what does it mean to ‘redeem work’, or that our work is redeemed?

Redemption means that we are rescued from slavery to freedom. Because Jesus Christ died for me and rose again everything has changed, my life has changed. In my work this has all sorts of very practical effects: my attitude to work has changed, and the way I do my work has changed. Our attitude, behavior, values and application at work are redeemed from ‘something’ to ‘something else’.

I have been asking myself what difference being a Christian has made to my work. What is it that that I have been redeemed from and to? Put another way. In what ways do I experience God’s creation purpose and a foretaste of the glory to come in my daily work in this broken world? I have listed below 10 ways in which we might experience the work of God in our life at work, changing our attitudes, behaviors and relationships. You might find many more… this is just a thought starter!!

  • 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.

Graham Hooper
12 February 2017

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