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Redeeming Work

GoM13 Redeeming Work Col 1.20 (05-04-21)
God on Monday
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‘God was pleased…through Christ to reconcile to himself all things…
through his blood, shed on the cross (Col 1.19-20).

Welcome to the thirteenth God on Monday reflection on ‘purpose’!

‘Love’s redeeming work is done’. I have always loved this line from Charles Wesley’s hymn ‘Christ the Lord the risen today’. Early on Easter Sunday mornings, the four of us children would be woken by my father playing that hymn on the piano – it was our signal to get up, jump on our bikes, and race to the top of Cambridge’s Gog Magog Downs to join a sunrise service.

But my love for Wesley’s poetic line is not merely for the memory it invokes but also for the theology it evokes. Each word tells a significant truth about Christ’s death and resurrection: ‘Love’ reflects that these events are the ultimate symbol of God’s love; ‘redeeming’ that they have freed humankind from the debt of sin; ‘work’ that they involved deliberate and costly action; and ‘is done’ that the workplan has been fulfilled.

Yet 2000 years after these events occurred, humans and the societies they build still show their need for redemption. Examples of fallen work abound. The liberation of human beings and the rest of the created order is evidently far from complete (Rom 8.22-25). God’s work, in which humans are invited to join, to reconcile to himself all things through Christ, must therefore be understood as work in progress (2 Corin 5.17-19).

In other words, it would also be true to say ‘love’s redeeming work is not yet done’. Although the redeeming work of love that took place through Christ’s physical body has decisively been accomplished, that work still needs to be carried forward by Christ’s mystical body, the church, scattered as it is throughout ordinary everyday life. Indeed, all human work that reflects God’s work will be acting redemptively in some way.

Examples of such redemptive work also abound. Some are obvious: a family adopting an abandoned child; a business leader employing an ex-convict; a social worker helping someone escape abuse; an entrepreneur launching a green-tech product. Others appear more mundane: cleaning a house; checking the results of an experiment; laying a new floor; correcting a set of accounts; renovating a campervan; repairing a bicycle; even sewing on a button. All work that increases shalom (flourishing or wellbeing) are examples of love’s redeeming work.

This week we will have plenty of opportunity to engage in such work. For it is what on earth we are here for.

Peter S Heslam, Director of Faith in Business

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