Genesis 1 is the first place to turn when we think about a theology of work. God is presented as worker, creator, and designer. He makes the heavens and the earth (Gen 1:1), he creates light (1:3), he forms the sky and the earth (1:6–10), and he makes vegetation (1:11–12). God establishes the heavenly lights (1:14–17), and he creates living creatures in the water, in the air, and on land (1:20–22). Finally, God makes man and woman in his own image (1:26–27). After all this activity, God rests from his creating work (2:2–3).
The significance of Genesis 1 for a theology of work is that work is a good thing that the Creator does. It is not a result of the fall, nor is it some kind of necessary evil. God works, and therefore work is good. We also see that God “rests” from his creative work, and so we see that rest is also good. All of this is set up before the fall into sin in Genesis 3, which causes human work to become corrupted and difficult, but it is still an inherent good stemming from God’s own character and purpose.
Genesis 1 teaches about work. This much is well-trodden in recent theologies of work. But what does this have to do with achievement?
In fact, it is clear that God not only works, but he achieves. God’s achievements are indicated in a few ways in the text. First, there is a pattern that runs through the passage in which God says “Let there be…,” which is followed by “and there was…,” or “it was so.” In other words, God’s intentions come to fruition: “God said ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light'” (1:3). “God said ‘Let there be an expanse between “God’s assessment of his own work in creation shows that his work brings about achievements.”the waters, separating water from water.’ So God made the expanse and separated the water…'” (1:6–7). This patterns occurs in 1:9, 11, 14–15, 20–21, 24, 26–27. This is a pattern of achievement. God sets out to do a series of things, and each is accomplished, one by one.
Another key indication of achievement is God’s assessments of his creative work. After he creates light, “God saw that the light was good” (1:4). After he separated the land from the sea, “God saw that it was good” (1:10). After he creates vegetation, “God saw that it was good” (1:12). After he established the heavenly lights, “God saw that it was good” (1:18). After he created the living creatures for sea and sky, “God saw that it was good” (1:21). After he created living creatures for the earth, “God saw that it was good” (1:25). And, after creating man and woman, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good” (1:31).
God’s assessment of his own work in creation shows that his work brings about achievements. He sets out to accomplish certain goals, he completes them, and then he evaluates them as good. This process of intention, production, evaluation fits neatly with the understanding of achievement that has been developing over the last few weeks.
Whatever else we may end up saying about achievement, it is clear that achievement is inherently good. God is an achiever. And, as we will see next week, this is something he desires for human beings too.