Work and Wealth
In the biblical framework of oikonomia, work and the creation of wealth are intrinsically good and are to contribute to the end – the telos – to which all of history is moving: the Glory of God, and the return of Christ and his kingdom.
The work of human beings is carried forward from time into eternity, from the “old earth” to the new heaven and new earth. To say it differently, the work of human imagination and man’s hands, godly ideas and artifacts, will transcend with the redeemed from time to eternity, earth to heaven.
As Revelation 21:23-26 discloses: “The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it” (emphasis added). The wealth of the nations will be brought into the garden-city as a tribute to Christ the king.
This wealth may consist of the natural treasures of a nation that have been cultivated by the people of the nation, such as gold, frankincense, or cedars of Lebanon. It may be material artifacts that were born from human creativity such as art, music (from Bach and Handel to the harmonies of Africa), beautiful fabrics, sculpture, as well as beautiful human artifacts such as furniture built by the Shaker communities. It may be the discoveries of human beings such as the ancient civilizations’ creation of the wheel, the 2nd century creation of paper by the Chinese, or the 17th century English scientist Robert Hooke’s invention of glass. It may be the ideals birthed in nations, the ‘Dignity of Labor’ in Germany, ‘Peacemaking’ in Norway or ‘Freedom’ in the USA.
-Darrow L. Miller
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