A Theology of Housework
A Theology of Housework

A Theology of Housework

This past week, the DML team, BAM Global, and GACX members were privileged to have some time with Mark Greene, former Executive Director for the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity (LICC), author, and current mission champion.  He spoke at Lausanne in Cape Town in 2010 and said that, “the church has been using an inadequate mission strategy around the world, wherein the essence has been to recruit the people of God to use some of their leisure time to join the mission activities of church paid workers.”  He went on to say that “98% of Christians who are not employed by a church are not being equipped to live missionally for 95% of their waking lives.”  

In our meeting with him, he used the words “tragedy” and “outrage” to describe the fact that so many people die without knowing their calling.

Then, during the course of our interview, he talked about a “theology of housework.”  For those of us who have a love/hate (okay…really a hate/hate) relationship with housework, my ears definitely perked up.

We serve a working God, who continues to work today (John 5:17:  My Father is always at His work to this very day, and I am too.) He described five different impacts of God’s work and compared it to housework.

1.  God’s work brings order.  We see this throughout creation.  Housework also brings order to the home.  Things get put back into place so that we can find them again.  Cluttered spaces get a chance to breath as they are straightened.

2.  God’s work generates provision.  Housework also generates provision.  Provision of a clean bed and room for very important sleep.  Provision of hygienic bathrooms and kitchens for healthy bodies and healthy food.  Provision of safe spaces for thinking, creating, playing, and learning together.  And so much more!

3.  God’s work brings joy.  While I am not saying that housework IS joy, it does indeed bring joy!  Think about the feeling of being in your home AFTER the cleaning is done.  It smells fresh.  Nothing is sticky.  Everything is in its place.  You feel joyful and proud to have people over.  

4.  God’s work brings beauty.  Housework does too!  The beauty of sparkling sinks.  The beauty of clean windows to see the outside world.  The beauty of clean, pressed clothing that brings out the inner beauty of the person wearing those clothes with confidence.  

5.  God’s work releases potential.  Ah.  Here’s the best one.  Housecleaning releases the potential for new creativity and new work.  This was always the struggle for me!  I would finish cleaning the house, only to have the family come home and turn it upside down again so quickly.  But a clean kitchen invites cooking or baking.  Cleaned up toys invites children to play in new ways.  Fresh clothes invite us to dress with confidence and go into our other spheres of influence.

We can ask ourselves these questions about the other work that we do as well.  How does your work bring order, provision, joy, beauty, and release potential?  

The work that we do brings about these things because we are the hands and feet of Jesus, involved in the good work of our original creation (Genesis 1:28 and 2:15), and now involved in the restoration of creation until Jesus returns again.  We are to bring the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, every day, a little at a time, through our work.

But a mental shift is needed to see it this way.  And sometimes it starts with our language.  I no longer say, “I’m going to weed the garden.”  I say, “I’m going to subdue the earth.”  It reminds me that this work (that I really don’t enjoy!) is fulfilling an aspect of God’s command, and therefore it is a good and holy thing!

And then we can do our work with joy, as Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, do it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.”  Amen!