God the Great Janitor?

| March 24, 2015

Many who reflect on issues related to faith and work have become accustomed to describing God as a worker. We say that he’s the Great Architect who designed the world, the Great Artist who carefully crafted each leaf, and the Great Physician who heals our wounds. How often, though, have you heard him described as the Great Janitor?

Some of my friends tell me that comparing God to a janitor feels irreverent. But why? Could it be that our view of work is shaped more by our cultural idols than by the gospel of the Suffering Servant? Could it be that we lack respect for the work of janitors or the ability to see their good work as an act of image-bearing? Can a biblical vision of work reframe the way we view vocations that care for place, like janitors, maintenance staff, housekeepers, custodians, and others?

When I was in my early 20s, I worked as a janitor a few times. One time was for a Christian nonprofit, and I took the job as a way to move up the ranks—hoping to land in “ministry” eventually. Although I now lament the dualistic, discontented, and dismissive way that I approached my…

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