Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Returning To Eden

Courtesy of Faithwalk Photography
A seamstress smooths the fabric in her sewing machine and proceeds with the seam again. About her are scissors, tapes, needles and yards of flowing material; this is the context of her work.

The soft grass causes a swooshing sound under the muck boots of the homestead lady. A milk pail is in one hand, a basket of eggs in the other, she passes the wire fence which surrounds a small barn, flocks of golden chickens and a herd of seven goats. This is the context of her work.

God creates a garden. In it He places animals of every kind; fruitful trees and plants which create a flora and fauna rainbow of intense beauty. Lastly, God homes a man and woman in His garden. The Creator then proclaims it good: He has given mankind relationships to the earth, to each other and to Him. God also has given man a mission to rule and steward; this is now the context of man's work.

Returning to Eden

In recent years, there has been a growing revival among many believers to go back to the Beginning. Starting in Genesis, many are rediscovering God's design for marriage, the family, biblical gender roles, governments, even truthful interpretations for science and history. The arena of labor also debuts in Moses' first book. In fact, the command to “replenish the earth, and subdue it” is recorded as God's first command to Adam and Eve. And likewise, did not God say He put Adam in the garden to “dress it and keep it”? (See Genesis 1 and 2)
 So what does Eden, as the context of the first “work assignment”, have to do with us? What difference does Genesis make to the family business or the young woman working at home? First, I believe it should fundamentally change our view of labor. Work is not a consequence of the Fall. God gifted work to us and called it good. 
 Do we?
 Listen to enough "Monday morning" comments and you'd think God blew it big time. I'll admit, in studying for this article, God convicted me of my attitude toward work. How often I think like the world and treat work as a burden instead of a gift from my Father! Eden unveils to us both a biblical and tangible context for work.

Courtesy of Faithwalk Photography

Second, Eden shows God giving work in the context of three relationships: our relationships to Him, each other and our world. Eden is the only historical record we have of what God intended this balance of work and relationships to look like. It was God's perfect context for man. A environment where one could “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength” and “ love thy neighbour as thyself” (Mark 12:30-31). Eden was the ground where the first (chronological) commandment and the First (superior) commandment mingled in perfect harmony.

So how would our work days be different if we went back to Eden's model? What if instead of seeing work and relationships as enemies at war (should I choose between my business or my family? How many hours can I work without my relationships suffering?), we strove, with the Lord's help, to see God's commandment to work as His context for living out His commandment to love? Could we maybe, just maybe...go back and learn from Genesis how the first commandment and the First commandment worked in harmony?

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