On a Wednesday evening last week, I found myself picking up matchbox cars, scraps of paper, and colored pencils from our living room floor. I refolded the navy and white-striped blanket and placed it back on the couch. Then I fluffed and adjusted the pillows that sat at each end of it. I gathered the kids’ dirty laundry: shirts thrown off in a frenzy, shorts kicked up against the side of the hallway. And in the midst of cleaning up, I reminded myself that I was doing theology.
That may sound strange to you, but everything we do is theological. Everything fits into a purposeful web of behavior that reveals, builds, or proclaims our relationship with the God of details. Everything we do is a word (logos) about God (theos). That includes routine housework.
But what sort of theology are we doing when we pick up after our children or fold the laundry? I believe that cleaning up the house is an act of restoration. As we gather objects from the floor and restore order to a room, we carry out a God-given, image-bearing task. That task of restoration images God in his restoration of order to a world broken by sin. God is one who restores. He restores people in their professions (Gen. 40:13-21); he restores human skin riddled with disease (Exod. 4:7; 2 Kgs. 5:20; Luke 17:11-19); he restores the fortunes of his people (Deut. 30:3); he restores cities (1 Sam. 7:14). He even restores life itself (1 Kgs. 8; John 11:38-44). In fact, at the end of time, God will restore everything, for the “former things” of a sin-ridden world will fall away (Rev. 21:4). God restores.
As I gathered up the kids’ toys and dirty laundry, I watched myself restore a room to order. I thanked God for his constant work of restoration, for this is what God does at every moment of the day throughout the entire cosmos. He restores, and he does so out of pure, loving grace.
Ordinary housework has great value in God’s eyes, for he is always pleased to see his children mirroring his greatness.