A few months ago I had a friend ask me when I was going to be going on a mission trip again. She had gone with us on several international mission trips, and had really come alive while serving in different parts in the world. And now years later she and her husband owned a restaurant in another state, and they missed missions. Their business was successful and thriving. She loved her job, but she felt guilty about serving chicken fried steak to customers but not orphans in another country.
Sometimes I hear people say something along the lines of “No one ever thinks on their death bed, I wish I would have spent more time at the office.” And I get what I think they’re trying to say with that. I think they are trying to say that there are unhealthy work-a-holic like patterns that we need to veer away from.
The Myths of Retirement
In the world that the Bible was written it was extremely countercultural. Specifically, it’s view of work.
Most of the Creation stories of the ancient world involved this idea that the world was created from warfare and violence, and the body of a dead god decayed into the creation. So the Greeks viewed work as a curse, they thought that what it meant to be really alive was to be uninvolved in this world.
The Greek view of work was that it was a necessary evil. They believed that in the beginning, the gods and people lived together in “a golden age” and that in that age there was no work. Work was something to be suffered through. It was a means to an end.
But Genesis, starts off radically differently. It involves a God who intentionally works and creates the world with care. In fact, the word that Genesis uses for God’s creative word is just the Hebrew word for everyday work.
The Bible starts off with God working. And then he creates Adam and Eve and immediately puts them to work And that’s important, because before the fall, there was work. God didn’t finish creation, he started it and then joins in a partnership with them as they create culture, name animals and pioneer…well basically everything.
God works with them.
And in the Christian story, this all happens before sin entered the world.
It’s interesting that the Bible doesn’t have this idea of retirement. Instead the Bible has the idea of Sabbath. That is you don’t just work yourself to death until you turn 65. You work with the pace of someone who knows they aren’t the Savior and creator of the world. You rest for a season and then work for a season. But you never just decide to not work again.
In fact, the closest thing in the Bible that would resemble what we call retirement is death.Continue Reading...