When God made the first man, He put him in a garden. In so doing, He provided humanity with a pattern for life, showing us all what our lives are to be about.
To grow a thriving garden, you need several elements. First, you need a willingness to cultivate it. Gardens can’t be left to themselves, they need to be worked at. Second, you need to guard or protect your garden. That is, you have to do what you can to keep various critters from disturbing what you are growing. And third, you need to trust, knowing that though you may do the planting and watering, God causes the growth.
These three elements are precisely the ones that God gave the first man when he put him in the garden of Eden. After putting the man in the garden, the Lord commanded him to cultivate the garden and keep it. And He also commanded him to trust Him (specifically, regarding His direction not to eat from a certain tree).
Cultivating, keeping, and trusting, are needed for more than just growing gardens. They are necessary for every endeavor in life.
If some opportunity comes your way, or if you are given something good, you can’t just let it sit there. You need to work at it and develop it. At the same time, you need to protect against any intruder that would diminish the value of what you have. And all while you are cultivating and guarding, you need to trust that God will bless your faithful efforts.
Let’s consider a couple of examples.
If you have a family, you can’t just leave it to itself and expect it to remain alive. You need to cultivate your marriage and children. You need to pay attention to those cultural forces that are harming your family and guard against them. And you need to trust God, believing that as you follow Him in your family He will surely bless it.
The same thing is true for a business or some other enterprise under your care. Whatever operation you have an interest in, it needs tending to. It can’t run on auto-pilot. You need to work at it, and anticipate changes and threats that may harm what you have. All while trusting God to bless your efforts.
The need to trust can be the hardest part for anyone of us to fulfill.
When God told the first man not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, He essentially told him that he was not to share in God’s glory and rule until the appointed time. But in the very next chapter (Gen.3), we learn that the man could not wait, and seized what God had forbidden (at least for a time).
We face the same temptation. We want glory and authority and power – but we want it without the necessary cultivating, keeping, and trusting. This seems to be especially so with many young people today, who want and expect to have now what it took their parents a lifetime to attain. Unfortunately, with such a heart, gardens do not grow.
Consider the garden that God has put you in. Cultivate it and keep it. And trust Him for His blessing as you do.
It’s good every now and then to go back to the beginning – the beginning of the Bible, that is. Because here we find what God has to tell us about our identity and purpose for life. In a day when there are so many who have questions about what it means to be human and what our purpose in life is all about, this is worth returning to over and over again.
Without a basic understanding of how God has designed us and why He gives us breath each day, our lives slip into hopeless futility. But thankfully, God does reveal these basics to us so we can live with hope and direction.
The first chapter of the Bible tells us that God made mankind distinct from the rest of creation by making men and women in His image (Gen.1:26,27). While things like birds and stars and mountains all glorify God, only human beings are made in His likeness, or are able to replicate the very qualities of God Himself.
Why is it that people have a conscience that gives them a sense of justice and righteousness? Because they are made in the image of God who is righteous and just. Why is it that people have such an affinity for love, kindness, and patience? It’s because God has made us to reflect these qualities. How is it that we have a will that consciously makes choices? Because God created us so that we would choose to live in a way that honors Him.
It is these qualities that set us apart as human beings and make us more than sophisticated animals. And it is because of this that we have more value than any other aspect of God’s creation.
Why does your life matter? Because you have been made in God’s image. You have been made in the imago Dei.
God has also made us as the climax of His creation in that He has given us what theologians call the dominion mandate.
After God created the first man and woman, He commanded them to, “Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it” (Gen.1:28). In other words, God has charged us to fill and rule this world on His behalf.
As people are faithful to this mandate, they find that they have different roles to play. For example, from the Bible we learn that Jubal created music, Tubal-Cain developed metals, Abraham became adept over fields and herds, and Solomon became wise in the realm of ideas.
Like these examples, people today are to become established in their own role in life and fulfill it faithfully. And this gives us understanding of what it is to be a spiritual person.
Though it is often assumed that a spiritual person is one who is detached from this world, the Bible shows us something different. The Bible reveals that the spiritual person is the one who engages this world with a mind to do God’s work in it.
Of course, because of sin, the human race finds its identity and purpose distorted. But through Christ this is being restored. And all who trust Him come to know who they are and what God wants them to do.
“Religion is not a single, separate sphere of human life, but the divine principle by which the entire man is to be pervaded, refined and made complete. It takes hold of him in his undivided totality, in the center of his personal being; to carry light into his understanding, holiness into his will, and heaven into his heart; and to shed thus the sacred consecration of the new birth, and the glorious liberty of the children of God, over his whole inward and outward life. No form of existence can withstand the renovating power of God’s Spirit. There is no rational element that may not be sanctified, no sphere of natural life that may not be glorified.”
~ Philip Schaff
Ever wonder what God thinks about evolutionary arguments that deny Him as Creator? Well, the Bible actually tells us.
But before looking at that, let’s note that the Bible plainly testifies that God has made all things.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen.1:1). He is the One who created the stars and leads their host by number (Is.40:26). “For by Him all things were created. . . and in Him all things hold together” (Col.1:16,17).
The Bible reveals God as the Creator in order to do more than just satisfy our curiosity about how things began. He is revealed as Creator so that we would know that He is Lord over heaven and earth – and our lives.
The Bible also gives us an account of how creation unfolded so we can see that it is by His Spirit we have life. And by this same Spirit we are to fill the earth and subdue it, looking forward to a day when all things will be brought to consummation and glory.
From what the Bible tells us about creation, we learn that there is One who has ultimate authority over us, and One who has given us purpose. Take the Bible’s teaching about creation away and we are left with no foundation for ethics and meaning in life.
Because of this, it makes perfect sense that God would not look favorably on those who deny Him as Creator. To deny Him as Creator is to remove the very source of purpose and standards in this life. And it’s to put man in the place of God.
The Bible tells that God’s wrath comes against those who suppress the truth about His place as Creator. And why does He do this? Because since the creation of the world His eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen through what has been made, so that all men are without excuse (Rom.1:18-20).
And how does God show forth this wrath? By giving those who deny Him over to their own perverse desires (Rom.1:24ff.)
Is this not what we have today? Our institutions have officially denied the Creator. An attorney who refers to the higher law of God in the courtroom will lose his case as a result. And the college professor who leans toward Intelligent Design will, in Ben Stein’s words, be “expelled.”
And what is the consequence of this? God is giving us over. We are now tinkering with the definition of marriage, which for millennia has proven to be the bedrock of civilization.
The fruit of denying God the Creator has a rotten history that we must not forget. Darwinism brought us Nazi concentration camps and atheism led to the “re-education” of the Soviet Gulag.
The creation-evolution debate is about a whole lot more than science. It’s about ultimate authority, and it’s about the future. Will it be freedom or fascism? Life or death?
Let us return to our Creator. Let us choose freedom and life.