Archive for August 25th, 2014

First Things

August 25th, 2014

And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

Genesis 2:25

The creation story ends with human life, male and female, created, brought into intimacy with God and into community with one another. The order of this account is beautiful and peaceful as well. Because we are made in God’s image, we human have godly ambitions, and though sin has marred us we still have within us a desire to know what we are made for, how we were made to function. We are not able to cope with the sheer idea of purpose – raw, formless, unattached to any means to function. We need some forms, institutions, concrete matters to see our duties clearly. And these God simply and beautifully supplies in this second chapter of Genesis.

This is not all that is said in the Bible about duty, but the simplicity of these first matters is beautiful in and of itself. Life in today’s world is too fast, too complicated, and too overwhelming for us, and within each of us there is the longing for something more simple, plain, concrete, clear, and this chapter provides it. It puts first things first – and I do mean “things” and not just ideas, concrete matters of life.

A job to do: We are bored without some purpose to give our time and energies to. We need rest but we need work more. God placed Adam in the garden to tend it and take care of it. The oldest profession is not prostitution but farming, or gardening. This is not just to sit and harvest without thought, to lazily pick the fruit that plants bear on their own. Rather it is to be actively engaged in helping and supervising the natural life of the plants. We also in our lives today need jobs to do, specific forms of work, and in this work to take pleasure.

Ecclesiastes 3:22 says, “So I saw that there is nothing better than that a man should rejoice in his work, for that is his lot.” Work does not demean us, rather it gives us dignity and significance. To find a job that God has led us to, that He has provided for us, that He has gifted us to do, that lays not just within our abilities but also within our interests and even our passions is a precious thing. Even more so if we can see that this job, this specific work benefits others, blesses the creation of God, helps provide needed commodities to those around us – food, life, enjoyment, education, health, protection, etc.

A family to enjoy: The initial marriage was one of love and support. The absence of shame refers not only to their physical condition, but to their conversation and life together. It never entered Adam nor Eve’s heads at first that the other would say anything unkind, that there would be any basis of rejection, that Adam would complain that Eve had let herself get a bit flabby, or that Eve would find a basis of rejection for Adam. In their love was acceptance, peace, harmony, and mutual support for what God had given them to do.

The sheer harmony of everything God created is seen in these early chapters, and we are wise if we take this lesson to heart. In this world our lives can so easily spin out of control, overly busy, distracted, harassed, pressured, and worn out. We need to return to these simpler days of our race.

A question we might ask is whether God intended Adam only to work and Eve to tend to the family matters. But the answer of the text is that Eve was Adam’s helper in all that he did – and this role was not a belittling of womanhood, rather simply the statement that she shared Adam’s work and purpose. And, despite the biological differences between the sexes, Adam also was concerned with what happened at home. They were a team together and derived support and strength from one another.

God to worship: The early forms of worship were different from our forms today. Since the advent of sin now we worship God through the sacrifice, through the promise of the Redeemer and our Redemption before Christ, and in the observance and celebration of His sacrificial death and glorious resurrection since He has come.

The early days of human life, however, were not like ours and their worship took the form of simple relationship. Though we now approach God through Christ our Savior, the outcome of the grace we receive today is similar to what Adam and Eve enjoyed in the days of innocence – intimacy with God.

So we may add prayer to this list of forms – work, marriage and family, prayer – that are given to us. In prayer we affirm our need of God and our trust that He cares for us. In our fallen-ness we have complicated prayer because of our senses of guilt and shame, our fears and worries, and prayer for us lifts our spirits as we pour out our hearts to God. But still the beautiful simplicity of the form of prayer, the celebration of relationship and the expression of intimacy with God, reveal to us the first things of life.

I will stop here, though perhaps we could add schedule for the week also seems to have been instituted by God, though there is some question about that, whether it came here or later on under the Mosaic Covenant. Too often our schedules terrorize us, and here in Genesis 2 there is no command to observe or not observe the Sabbath. No starting times or quitting times; it is all in harmonious balance.

So let me invite you to return to the simpler things of life – see yourself as God’s special creation and let these early forms help you in your balancing your life. Work. Family. Prayer. There is a sacredness about all three of these.

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