A report live-blogged by Andy Naselli

Dr. Tom Nelson will be preaching in chapel here at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School on Tuesday and Thursday this week. Here’s how the Henry Center has described his sermon series:

February 3, 5, 2009  |  Dr. Tom Nelson, Christ Community Church, Leawood, KS
In these two messages we will briefly explore together the rich and robust doctrine of Christian vocation, focusing on the topic of work. Examining primarily the first three chapters in Genesis we will seek to build a theological framework regarding work and bring to light its vital contribution to our pursuit of Christian faithfulness in our times. The first message is entitled, “The Sunday To Monday Gap (Genesis 1:26-28, 2:15).” The second message is entitled, “Is Work A Four Letter Word? (Genesis 3:17-19).”

Scripture Reading

  • Gen 3:17–19
  • Ecc 2:18–23


Tom accidentally mowed over a sprinkler head in his yard. “Work sometimes makes me want to curse. How about you?” Work can be one big pain. But why?

Gen 3:17–19

  • In part 1, we looked at the “before” picture in Gen 1–2. Now in part 2, we will look at the “after” picture in Gen 3, and it’s not a pretty picture.
  • Work is not a result of the curse, but the curse impacts work in every dimension.
  • “Curse” in Gen 3:17–19 describes this new reality and its effect on work.
  • Illustration: C. S. Lewis captures what the curse means with the chilly curse of winter in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. “Always winter and never Christmas.” “How dreadfully awful.”
  • Cf. the sense of groaning in Rom 8:23–34.
  • Workaholism (i.e., excessive devotion to work) is idolatry. It destroys our relationship with God and others.
  • Some wrongly think, “Some work is more important than other work.” This is a distorted picture of work, seeing religious work as a higher calling and secular work as a lower calling. This work-dualism is faulty. The term “full-time Christian work” sometimes contributes to this faulty dualism. Another dualistic distortion is one that exalts a monastic life.

Ecc 2:18–23

  • Cf. the Rolling Stones lyrics: “I can’t get no satisfaction, but I try and I try and I try.”
  • Cf. Ecc 3:12–13.
  • Work in this broken and fallen world is a mixed bag: it is cursed, but it is a true gift at its creation-core.

Cultivating Hopeful Realism About Work

  1. Remain hopeful in the midst of work’s inevitable difficulties. Stay-at-home moms, for example, don’t get a lot of accolades and recognition, but that work is an act of holy worship. Cf. Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of James 1:2–3 in The Message.
  2. See your work as an opportunity for personal growth and influence.


Cf. the example of Christ, without whom life and work are deeply unfulfilling.