|After working late one night not long ago, I found myself wondering, “If I were in an accident and knew I wouldn’t live, would I regret how I spent my day?”
I had spent a large part of that particular day organizing a local nonprofit organization’s YouTube videos. At first, it felt trivial as I sat considering life and death. But it’s not; the work I did that day, like the work you and I do every day, is, in fact, a reflection of the divine.
Genesis 1:2 says that when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth “was without form and void.” Although the original Hebrew words for “without form and void” are not directly translatable into English, they convey the idea of the Genesis 1:2 universe being something like what we might think of as “chaos.”
The process of creation, then, was God’s act of bringing order to the chaos by organizing and shaping it into everything we see today.
This biblical account of a genesis from chaos is especially interesting considering the “End of Days” scenario predicted by many physicists.
The second law of thermodynamics states that everything is in a state of decay, and everything in the universe tends toward “entropy,” which means something like randomness, disorder … or chaos. This, many physicists believe, is the eventual fate of the universe—particles bouncing around randomly or chaotically.
To exemplify the concept of entropy, the host of one television program dropped a wine glass to show it shattering into pieces. This is entropy, he said, and everything is heading in that direction.
The problem with his demonstration was that somebody made the wine glass. In fact, the glass represents thousands of years of human progress to produce a glass that holds what has been deemed to be the ideal amount of wine, directs the wine to the perfect spot in a person’s mouth and allows just enough heat to pass from a hand through the glass to warm the wine so as to maximize the enjoyment of each drink.
The product of these thousands of years of progress is the opposite of entropy. Humans, it seems, are like God in that we are creative beings and in our acts of creation we rebel against entropy.
This idea is fundamental to how human civilization works. Practically every job a person can have requires that they organize chaos, and they do so for the benefit of other people.
A waitress creates a service that didn’t exist when she takes an order back to the cook, giving the restaurant patron time to use his smartphone to send an email full of data that another employee will compile into a spreadsheet that another employee will use to write a report that a CEO will use to plan the company’s future. And the company will produce things like smartphones, which, by putting all of human knowledge in my pocket, has enriched my life and allowed me to be productive at times when I couldn’t before.
In the composition process, a writer organizes thoughts and feelings that others experience but have not been able to express themselves. Some people read these words and are comforted in knowing that others feel the same. Others are inspired by the words to write something of their own, which will reach others in the same way.
I organized YouTube videos for an organization so that when someone searches for them, they will be able to easily find them, allowing people to save time, which can be spent in other productive ways, such as creating spreadsheets and writing columns.
Human creation is not “ex nihilo.” We each build on the progress of the billions of people who came before us, and we are partners with everyone who is living today, working to overcome chaos in a world that is decomposing in the most literal sense.
Assuming you are not in a line of work that furthers the decay, your day-to-day acts of creation are nothing short of a divine partnership with God and other people. Our jobs, no matter how mundane they may seem sometimes, are premised upon the notion of serving each other through the things we create.
Although we may lose sight of it at times, it has always been this way; our daily work is part of a process that extends back to the beginning of time and will end only when all work is finished—and creation is complete.
Zach Psick is a freelance writer who enjoys studying and discussing theology and politics in his leisure time.