|Vol. 2, No. 6||Page 5||June 2000|
Adam’s Infamous Gift
Initially, Adam and Eve possessed either immortal bodies or mortal bodies immortally maintained. In any case, after they sinned and they were no longer allowed to eat from the tree of life, the mortality with which we are familiar was first experienced by them. As a penalty for their sin, God decreed that they were to die. As a consequence of Adam and Eve’s sin, death was passed on to all mankind. Contrary to Calvinism, though, the guilt of sin is not inherited by descendants of the first couple.
Adam and Eve were created, but their posterity is the result of procreation. Since we neither have access to the tree of life nor has procreation endowed us with immortal bodies, we are subject to death, too. In this way we can easily understand “. . . in Adam all die . . .” (1 Corinthians 15:22), “. . . by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12), and “. . . by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation . . . by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners . . .” (Romans 5:18-19).
Obviously, death and mortality, as a consequence of Adam’s sin, are universally experienced by mankind. In a sense, all men are participants in the first sin representatively through Adam — in the same way Levi representatively through Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek (Hebrews 7:9-10). Frequently, the consequences of one’s actions, good or bad, are experienced by others. Happily, the consequences of Christ’s obedience to the death of the cross (Philippians 2:8), in part, will result in the universal resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:20-22; John 5:28-29).
Man is a dual being, both physical and spiritual. He inherits his physical, mortal body through procreation from Adam. However, man’s spiritual nature is derived from God, who is a spirit (Ecclesiastes 12:7; Zechariah 12:1; John 4:24). Therefore, since God is pure and sinless, the soul each person inherits from God is at first also pure and sinless. For this reason Adam’s sin is not inherited; each person is only guilty of his own sins (Ezekiel 28:15; 18:20).
Adam’s infamous gift to humanity, as a consequence of his sin, is death. However, Adam and Eve alone were guilty of that sin. Each of us is guilty only for his own sins. Fortunately for us, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, death brought about by Adam’s sin is countered and the coming universal resurrection is ensured.
“For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:21-22).
Further, through the death and resurrection of Christ
our sins can be taken away (1 Peter 1:18-21; Acts 2:22-38).
Occasionally, one might pause while at work and ponder, “What am I doing here!” Certainly there are many other places, doing many other things, by which one might make a living. It may be that a person simply does not enjoy his or her livelihood and further may feel unable to alter the vocational circumstances at hand. Caution is warranted lest we are overpowered by exasperation or even desperation. Further, there is a role that every Christian employee has toward our Lord that goes beyond the simple role of an employee.
It is not difficult to imagine that Joseph could have sometimes posed the question, “What am I doing here!” Would we have asked that question were we sold into slavery by our siblings? Would we have uttered that refrain again as a slave in Egypt and maybe again while in an Egyptian prison? Joseph, however, excelled in the face of adversity and did not forget God. His work ethic under intolerable conditions (by our standards) was outstanding. Several other Bible characters demonstrated admirable work ethics under difficult circumstances — and did not forget God.
From a purely human perspective, one may be in a job where everything is going right and the child of God still ponders, “What am I doing here?” Hard to imagine, perhaps, but it is possible. Moses was a child of God in such a situation. Essentially, he asked himself this question and answered it by choosing not to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season. In his case, he opted to endure affliction with his people. Moses did not forget God.
Though slavery is not precisely parallel to the employee-employer relationship, there are some similarities, at least in principle, which contribute to molding a proper work ethic. Christian slaves were exhorted to serve as becoming of followers of Christ and to labor as though directly working for Jesus (Ephesians 6:5-8; Colossians 3:22-24). In a sense, a slave was called upon to look beyond (1) the master, (2) the job and (3) any temporal reward.
Like them, a Christian employee should focus his attention on Christ, do one’s job as though employed by our Lord and appreciate an eternal, spiritual reward offered by Jesus Christ above earthly remuneration. Above all, we must recognize Christianity as our primary vocation and view the way in which we earn our livings as our avocations. We must not forget God.
Sometimes the gratification for which we long from our jobs may not be forth coming. (Too much gratification from one’s earthly vocation can overshadow Christian fidelity and service.) Still, we should reach for a degree of contentment in our occupations while making whatever we do for a living inferior to serving our Lord. We will be much happier if we accept what we are unable to change and concentrate on being the most faithful and useful child of God we possibly can be. There is much gratification possible, now and eternally, in this pursuit.