Christians Should Think Hard About The Difference Between Work & A Job

Calm down, everyone. This is not the time to quote Fight Club. It wasn't even that good of a movie. As far as I know. I stopped watching it halfway through. And yes, I know about the end. Because it was obvious. But enough about me and how clever I am, and about how much I am bored by your favorite movie.

Let's talk about how you're still the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world.

Also, let's talk about how a job and work are not the same thing. Adam did not have a "job" in the world's Garden. He had work to do. Giving names to all the animals and whatnot, more work than one man could do, really, but not a job. Work.

The word "job" used to refer to temporary work you might have. For example, you might help someone out during harvest to get some extra pay; that would be a job, and then you'd go back to your life and your work. That older use of job is why the britishism "a job of work" exists. A job of work is essentially a project.

It may be that you have a job, and that it's a good thing. But it is not a command of the Lord to have a job. Nor is it a sin to be without a job, as many seem to think, or at least act.

Now it is certainly a sin to not work. Let us quote from 2 Thessalonians 3.
Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone's bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.  
As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good.
We must all work. All of us. That is simply how it is. But why? Is it to be contributing members of society as judged by the state? Is it so that this country can produce more widgets than China does? Is it so that our society's appetite for fast food be satisfied? Are these the reasons we work? No. Rather, we do not grow weary in doing good.

With that in mind, and confessing to you that all the preceding has merely been an introduction to a link, I introduce to you an article to make you think about the place and value of work: The Proto-Post Scarcity Economy. Actually, that's not really what it's called. It's called The Economics of Star Trek: The Proto-Post Scarcity Economy. Yes, Star Trek.
...“everyone in a job” isn’t the same as a full economy, and we start to look for models beyond capitalism that aren’t all communist hoo-ha. I sort of love that Star Trek forces us to think about a society that has no money but still operates with individual freedom and without central planning. 
What, then, of labor? In today’s terms, a ‘healthy’ economy now is one at or near full employment. A healthy economy now is one where everyone has a job. But in our mental exercise, those jobs are actually unrelated to a healthy economy, at least from strict economic terms. Everyone’s fed and housed and tons of people simply don’t need to work. Right now, we have them working making shit we don’t need. Is that any better than them not working? 
I give you we’re in some fringe areas of economics here, but I have always wondered: is there any economic proof that we need full employment to reach full satisfaction of needs? To my knowledge, there isn’t. There’s a body of economics that goes into standards of living, and the increased standard of living. And here we get to our shitty world of unabated consumerism,
I encourage you to read the article. I believe it might be able to help Christians with a perspective that is not married to capitalism, as so many of us are. The work-economy of the Church, of the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth, ought to be Christian, not capitalist, above all else. Is work all about having a job? Perhaps it ought not to be.

For the record, I'm not telling you the world ought to be aiming for this one guy's idea of what the economics of Star Trek are. I'm simply suggesting that we reevaluate how we see work.

After all, in Eternity we will have work, but we will none of us have jobs. And if I decide to spend an endless decade on writing a sonnet or silently exploring the ice cave of Io, you will surely not look at me with contempt and say "get a job".

Surely not.


  1. My jaw literally dropped when I saw the title of this article bc this is EXACTLY what John and I have been wrestling with the past few months.

    Today marks his official first day of "job-lessness" and it's been amazingly freeing for both of us. We're not entirely certain of the future or the path forward, but we're trusting that the Lord will guide us and provide for us. In the meantime...we work! :)

    -Victoria Hubbard

  2. Utopia had an interesting take on this. Although the economy isn't exactly post-scarcity they have everyone do useful work. So people only work 6 hours a day and everyone has all their basic needs met. And they end up with enormous surpluses.

    But I like this model better. Utopia has a bit too much government involvement.


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