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  • Sonya Leigh Anderson

Work (Like Children)

Updated: Feb 24, 2022

Robert Collins on Unsplash

Our work—whether paid or not, drudgery or a joy, skilled or common—makes a difference. Done well, it adds truth, beauty, and goodness to the world. It pushes back the darkness.

—Tish Harrison Warren

What if our true vocation is to be childlike?

This came up in a conversation about work. The same WORK that has been the center of my grappling thoughts for a while now. A year maybe? Give or take. A long season.

Vocation. Work. Employment. Purpose.


What does it mean to be faithful to HIS CALL?

One of my students—Adam—wrote about this in last week’s assignment.

(And I suppose this would be as good a time as any to press pause for a quick update on my current employment. No longer teaching children; I’m now teaching a class at the college level. Same friend—Michelle—who is sort of my boss. Last semester I taught elementary students in one of her schools; this semester I’m teaching a college class through a department she heads. Which maybe explains my current dilemma when it comes to jobs.)

So, this young man, Adam, wrote about “Vocation and Call” for his weekly assignment, and yesterday in class, it came up again. In a lecture about children.

Why does Jesus choose children to show us his kingdom?

“Maybe children have nothing to prove,” says Adam. “Children have no status. Their work is simply to be with Him.”

Which is rather profound, when you think about it.

Every week we go back to the Garden, to the other Adam. Adam meaning human and—

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:26-27)

We remind ourselves of what it means to be created in God’s image. Literally to BE His image in His created world. This craziest status of representing God, representing His Rule. (And I remind the students, again, of what Tim Mackey says in the BibleProject: “To rule in Genesis 1 is to bring order and beauty out of chaos.”)

What a vocation.

And then, Genesis 3. The snake and the test, and the Adam-Human. Male and Female, they saw what was good, and they ate their way right into the trap. Did God really say…?

God spoke and He saw

And His forever good was tainted by death.

Our work.

The work of the womb, and the work of the land. Labor and toil. Blessing and curse. Read the story and you’ll see it. Blessing means fruit. Fruitful wombs and fruitful soil. Fruitful work. Reverse these blessings, and you’ll know the curse.

Each week, with college students, we enter this story. Red Thread of Redemption*

“This is the story we enter. Are you ready to enter this story with me?”

Each week we enter a story about JESUS.

Jesus, who changes the story.

So yesterday was Jesus & Children. The Thread of KINGDOM.

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:1-4)

We call this the UPSIDE-DOWN KINGDOM. And N. T. Wright, whose book I referenced in yesterday’s lecture, says this:

“The Beatitudes are the agenda for kingdom people. They are about the way in which Jesus wants to rule the world. He wants to do it through this sort of people—people, actually, just like himself.” (Simply Jesus, page 218)

Read it again. The Beatitudes. Matthew 5:2-12.

A description of Jesus? A description of children? And what does it say about me? Or we?

What is our true vocation?

(Jesus) asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.” (Mark 9:33-37)

*Red Thread of Redemption is the name of a Bible curriculum for children, which my friend Michelle Thompson is producing, and I am helping to write.

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