The COVID-19 pandemic has created an interesting moment in which who is deemed an “essential worker” has been flipped on its head.
For years, many have been predicting that factory workers, Shipt shoppers, and Amazon delivery drivers will soon be replaced by robots, delivery drones, and self-driving cars. According to these futurists, the workers who are “essential” in our economy are the entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and programmers who will bring these technologies to life.
Don’t get me wrong, of course these jobs are important and eternally significant. And no, I’m not interested in debating if and when the above future will occur. What I am interested in is the fact that in the course of just a few months, society has done a 180° in defining who and who is not an “essential worker.” And I believe this turn gives us a beautiful preview of what’s to come in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Scripture makes clear that work will be a part of our lives in God’s eternal Kingdom. Revelation 22:3 gives us the following prophecy: “No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him.” As we have seen time and time again, work was created by God pre-sin, thus making it a form of worship. Post-sin, work was cursed and made difficult. But there is coming a day in which the curse will be removed and work (or “service”) will remain.
God’s Word also makes clear that in the Kingdom we will have varying degrees of position and authority granted as rewards based on how we steward this present life. Nobody will be “nonessential” in the most literal sense of that term, but like today, we will all have varying degrees of responsibility and, to quote Jesus, “greatness.” Jesus made this crystal clear in today’s passage, saying that some “will be called least in the kingdom of heaven” and others “will be called great.”
In the Kingdom of Heaven, we will all have equal status as adopted children of God. But we will not all have equal positions as we work. Some will be greatest. Some will be least. Some will lead. Some will follow. And unlike today, positions of greater authority will be all blessing and no curse.
So the question then becomes, what does Jesus have to say about how we access those blessings? What can we do today to ensure we are deemed “greatest,” or, to borrow our present vernacular, deemed the most “essential” workers in the Kingdom? In short, Jesus calls us to be obedient servants. Over the next two days, we’ll unpack each of these terms together.