June 12, 2015 • Life for Leaders
Then the LORD God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.'”
As we have already seen, Genesis 2 tells the story of creation in a different way from Genesis 1. One main difference is the way in which the creation of human beings is portrayed. In Genesis 1, God creates humankind in God’s own image as male and female (1:27). The text suggests, but does not require, that man and woman were created at the same time. In Genesis 2, however, God creates the man first, adding the woman later. If we were unfamiliar with Genesis, this might be a bit surprising.
But far more surprising, in my opinion, is the way God sets up the creation of woman. One of the main emphases in Genesis 1 is the goodness of creation. Six times God saw what he had made as “good.” Then, after the creation of human beings, God saw “everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good” (1:31). Yet, the narrative of Genesis 2 contains the first time God notes something that is “not good” (2:18) in his evaluation of creation. This is what God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.”
If we read Genesis 2 on the heels of Genesis 1, it is striking to hear “It is not good” from the Lord. Of course we mustn’t misread the sense of “not good” here. God does to mean that what he has created is evil or fundamentally wrong. Rather, “not good” in this context means something like “incomplete” or “unfinished.” Even though the solitary man could work in the garden, honoring God with his labor, this was not good enough. For one thing, he would have a hard time being fruitful and multiplying. But also, the man was not created simply to be alone with God. God made the man for relationship, and for a particular kind of relationship with the woman.
Much could be said about the implications of this. Today, I want to reflect with you on this idea that aloneness is not what God intends for the man, and, by implication, for all of us. This does not mean, of course, that there is never a time for solitude. Jesus exemplifies getting away and being alone with God for a season. But, in the wider scheme of things, we have been created for community. We are not meant to work alone, to live alone, to be alone.
Unfortunately, many of us overlook this truth when it comes to how we live out our faith. We have bought into the American ideal of individualism, especially when it comes to faith. We see deep engagement with other Christians as spiritual extra credit, rather than as a core requirement for right living. For those of us who tend toward isolation, Genesis 2:18 serves as a salient reminder of God’s intentions for us: It is not good for us to be alone. It is not good for us to be alone.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
How does the surprising turn in the narrative of Genesis, from the “good” of chapter 1 to “not good” of chapter 2 strike you?
When it comes to how you live out your faith, do you tend to be a solo Christian? If so, why? If not, why not?
As you reflect upon Genesis 2:18, what is God saying to you?
Gracious God, you know what’s best and you always do it. Thank you for creating us with an inherent need for others. Thank you for making it clear through the narrative of Genesis 2 that it is “not good” for us to be alone. Help us to live out the life you have intended for us. In particular, when it comes to how we live our faith, may we not try to do it alone. Though actual human community can be quite messy sometimes, may we be committed to your people, your church. May we learn to work, play, rest, and worship in fellowship with our sisters and brothers in Christ. Amen.
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.