I visited our latest construction site this week. Glasswater Creek of Whitestown will be a 126 unit affordable assisted living and independent living facility in one of Indianapolis’ most up-and-coming suburbs. Whitestown will be the third in our Glasswater Creek housing brand, providing high-quality, affordable options for lower-income seniors who typically see assisted living as an expensive luxury.
We’re really proud of what Glasswater Creek is doing for frail elderly seniors in the housing market. I think it’s the good kind of pride, knowing we add value to a rapidly growing but often forgotten segment of the population.
I like to shoot construction update videos when I’m on-site, and so I pulled out my iPhone for a quick selfie-tour of the progress. Watching it back last night and reading responses on social media, I felt the two competing forces war inside me regarding the work at CRF and The Stone Table.
The first is that genuine pride in the value we are adding to the senior community. I believe providing high-quality, affordable senior housing is a pro-life stance; it’s honoring God and loving our neighbor through the work of our hands. In its own way, it’s the fulfillment of the Great Commandment (Matthew 22:35-40).
The second emotion is more subtle but more devious. It’s looking and longing for kudos and accolades. It wants to know that people see and appreciate the work we do. It’s an underlying desire I have to make a name for myself, to forge a self-made identity from my work, to feel good about myself because others see my work as noble and valuable. It’s internally leveraging my work as a self-salvation project of sorts. In short, it’s forging an idol out of the work of my hands.
Pastor Tim Keller calls this the “work under our work.” It’s the striving and toil that drives the work we do each day, not to honor God and bless others, but to justify ourselves. Keller says it this way in his faith and work masterpiece, Every Good Endeavor:
“For many of us, being productive and doing becomes . . . an attempt at redemption. That is, through our work, we try to build our worth, security, and meaning.”
It’s incredible how quickly our sinful humanity can bounce between the beauty and the broken. I can do the same thing. I can celebrate the progress of a new senior-living facility and either be driven by the beautiful desire to honor God or by the broken desire to exalt myself. It might look exactly the same to you. Still, the underlying motive might be God-honoring, or it could be idol-worshipping.
The Power of Easter
This weekend we celebrate the most anticipated day in the Christian calendar: Easter! After COVID shutdowns left Believers virtually declaring “He is Risen!” last year, I can’t imagine the joyous celebrations we’ll see across the country this Sunday. As you engage in Easter celebrations with your own church community this weekend, consider the impact of Jesus’ death and resurrection on your everyday work.
When Jesus died on the cross, His final words were “Tetelestai” (John 19:30). This is the Greek word for “It is Finished.” Tetelestai was often used as a business term, a word stamped on a receipt showing “paid in full.”
In that one powerful phrase, Jesus declared that all the striving, the self-making and struggle to make ourselves matter by our own effort, all of that was over. Finished. Paid in full. Tetelestai. You see, Jesus was not just a noble story in history; He was and is our Redeemer. He did for us what we could never do for ourselves. His death and resurrection have a tangible impact on every aspect of our daily lives. The “work under our work” is finished.
A Tangible Reminder
Amidst dozens of missions pictures and artifacts, the word Tetelestai is framed and hanging on the wall in my office. This isn’t perfunctory decor; it’s a memorial overflowing with deep purpose.
Every day when I come to work, I want to fill my brain with the constant reminder that Jesus’ finished work is the starting place for all of my work. I don’t work for God’s approval or the applause of man. I don’t work so that I somehow matter in this world. I don’t work as a means to forging my own identity and meaning. Because of Jesus, I already have all of those things!
I work from the place of Tetelestai! Paid in full! It is finished!
Now every aspect of my work, whether I perform skilled tasks or simple acts of service, can be tackled with this deepest Kingdom meaning: worship God and love my neighbor. The work under my work is complete.
How About You?
As you celebrate the resurrection of Jesus this Easter, take some time to contemplate what it means for your day-job. It’s easy to confine Jesus to the “spiritual compartments” of our life and forget that the Gospel redeems and resurrects all things, including the work of our hands. Easter Sunday flows powerfully into workday Monday.
Are you striving to make a name for yourself?
Does the social status of your job impact the way you see your value?
Is your identity all wrapped up in your work?
Easter isn’t just about preserving your soul for heaven. It resurrects and redeems all things, including the work of your hands. The work under your work is done, my friend. So let’s get to work. Real work.