Imagine a runner at the starting line, with the whole track ahead of her. The track is not like any she’s ever seen. It goes on forever, never-ending. The race begins, and the runner is off. Astonishingly, with every step, her speed increases exponentially. A few miles go by in the blink of an eye, and she isn’t even breathing hard. There is no pain in her muscles, no weariness, no thirst, or need for rest. As the miles pass by, the joy of the race grows and grows. Just as she thinks the track is about to end, another thousand miles open before her. And another. And another.
This is how we will work in eternity.
Most of us usually don’t think of heaven as a place of work. In fact, Revelation 14:13 says, “… they may rest from their labors …” But “labor” carries the idea of hardship, toil, and suffering. It describes the work of the Christian in a world opposed to Christ. In eternity, this dynamic will be removed.
“And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him” (Revelation 22:3).
There are two key truths in this verse that help us understand what work will look like in eternity.
First, the curse is replaced by the reign of Jesus Christ.
Work is what we were made for from the beginning. “Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it” (Genesis 2:15). It is an act of worship and a natural outworking of being made in the image of a working God.
Why don’t we generally enjoy working now? Because of the sin of Adam and Eve. Before our first parents disobeyed God, their work was defined by closeness with Him. But when that closeness was taken away, God’s favor abdicated the throne of work and was replaced by His displeasure, a curse.
“Then to Adam He said, ‘Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’: Cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, and you shall eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return’” (Genesis 317-19).
But in eternity, the relationship between God and His workers will be restored, and Christ the Lamb will take His place on the throne. No longer will our work be defined by suffering, but rather by the pleasure of God.
Second, our work is in service to God.
Angels and heavenly spirits are described as servants of God, but they are not made in His image. They do not create, build, cultivate, or design as God does. It is not in their nature to serve God according to His image. But we are His image-bearers, and our work reflects His work.
What will our work be like? This remains unclear to the Christian until we arrive at eternity, but we know that we will “judge angels” (1 Corinthians 6:3) and that we will inherit all things that Jesus Himself inherits (Romans 8:17). We can safely imagine our work will be consistent with humanity's original, sinless purpose and design.
Adam and Eve were created to cultivate, multiply, nourish, and subdue God’s creation under their benevolent and sinless authority. It may be that we will be gardeners and builders in God’s new creation, on a scale that is beyond our minds to grasp. Whatever our work may be, it will all be in service to God. We will work without inability, without ignorance, without risk of failure, and without sin.