Created for Community
As we look back upon Genesis 1-2, we see that God created us for community. This community is epitomized in the relationship of man and woman, which, among other things, made possible the growth of community as the first humans were fruitful and multiplied.
In Genesis 1, God created humankind in God’s own image as male and female. Community was built in from the start, an essential element of human life. In Genesis 2, the creation of human beings is seen from a different perspective. God created the man first. But then God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner” (2:18). There it is, plain as day: “It is not good that the man should be alone.” God creates us for relationship, for fellowship, for community.
Now you may want to say, “Wait a minute! The man wasn’t alone. He had God. In fact, his relationship with God was unstained by sin at this point in the story. The man and God could walk together in the garden, experiencing an intimacy we can only imagine. Why, then, would God say that the man was alone? Wasn’t relationship with God enough?”Read Post
An Encouragement to Rest
In today’s Life for Leaders edition, I continue to reflect back on things I have learned through our devotional study of Genesis 1-2.
Through my work with the Max De Pree Center for Leadership at Fuller Seminary, I regularly interact with highly productive, extremely busy people. Many are marketplace leaders who oversee substantial organizations. Others are entrepreneurs who devote countless hours to their start-ups. Still others are pastors whose work never ends, or non-profit leaders who are quite literally taking on the world. I find myself at home with people like this because I also work hard, often with much joy in the adventure of leadership and productivity.
Work comes naturally to leaders. Rest? Well, that’s often a different story.Read Post
Would You Pass a Kidney Test?
My friend Tom was born with defective kidneys. Thus, on a fairly regular basis, he has to go in for a kidney test. The doctors want to see if his kidneys are functioning well enough for Tom to continue on without invasive medical treatment. So far, so good. But, when it’s time for his kidney test, Tom is understandably nervous.
How about you? Are you nervous about your kidney test? Now, before you email me to say that you aren’t having such a medical procedure, let me hasten to say that I’m not thinking of the sort of thing Tom has to endure periodically. Rather, I’m translating Psalm 7:9 in an overly literal way. We read, “[You] test the minds and hearts, O righteous God” (7:9).Read Post
Your Work and God’s Glory, Part 2
Today I’d like to wrap up some recent reflections on work and God’s glory. In the last two installments of Life for Leaders, I’ve been suggesting that one of the main ways we are able to glorify God is through our work. I didn’t make this out of whole cloth. I found it in Genesis 1-2, where God creates human beings so they might work in the world. If God made us for work, then we can honor and glorify God through working.Read Post
Your Work and God’s Glory, Part 1
In yesterday’s installment of Life for Leaders, I considered how the centrality of work in Genesis 1-2 is consistent with the traditional affirmation that the “chief end of man” is “to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” Work is one way, perhaps even the main way, we can glorify God in this life.
This may sound confusing if you tend to think of glorifying God as what we do in church when we sing praises to God. No question, this counts as glorifying God. But there is so much more to glorifying God than praising God, no matter how essential and wonderful this might be.Read Post
Does Work Really Matter to God? Part 3
As we saw in yesterday’s devotion, Genesis 1-2 reveals God’s intentions for human life. God created us to be fruitful and multiply, to fill the earth and subdue it, to have dominion, to till/serve and to keep/care for the garden. In a nutshell, we were made to work. Genesis 2:1-3 implies but does not state that we are also to rest one day a week. That leaves six other days for work.
If Genesis 1-2 were all the Scripture we had, we would rightly conclude that work is our chief purpose in life (if you include raising children as part of work). The other 1187 chapters of the Bible give us a wider perspective on what we’re to do as human beings. But, still, we should understand that work is an essential and central element of human existence.Read Post
Does Work Really Matter to God? Part 2
In yesterday’s devotion, I asked the question, “Does work really matter to God? Or is recent Christian interest in faith and work just a fad?” One way to answer this question is to see if work is truly central to biblical revelation. Does work figure prominently in Scripture, in God’s story of creation, fall, redemption, and restoration? Or is it just a minor theme, something inessential?Read Post
Does Work Really Matter to God? Part 1
For many years of my life, I have been involved in what has been called the “faith at work” movement (now, more often, “faith and work”). At the center of this Christian movement is the conviction that work is essential to our lives, our calling, and our purpose for being. “Work matters to God” is a mantra among my colleagues in so-called marketplace ministries.
For decades, the faith and work movement thrived on the periphery of Christian life. Most churches offered little to support members in relationship to their daily work. Most pastors never preached on work, except perhaps to warn listeners about the dangers of materialism or other temptations of the workplace.Read Post
Seeing Beauty for the First Time
I’ve been trying to remember the first time I saw beauty. Oh, I know as a young boy I saw many beautiful things, sunsets, mountains, ocean waves, and the like. But I don’t remember feeling awed by their beauty. What I do remember vividly is my first trip to New England in the fall. I was four years old when my parents took me to visit my grandparents in Connecticut. From there, we made a trip up to New Hampshire and Vermont. I was astounded by the brilliant fall colors, especially the deep red of maple leaves. For the first time in my life, near as I can recall, I saw beauty. I was awestruck by it.
In our recent examination of Genesis 1-2, I saw beauty in the text for the first time.Read Post
Should Christians Ever Be Sad?
I grew up in a culture, church, and family that didn’t have much room for sadness. If people in my life were feeling sad, it was my responsibility to “cheer them up.” As a Christian, I knew I was supposed to “Rejoice in the Lord, always!” God was the one who wiped away every tear. Thus, sadness was inconsistent, not only with the cultural norms of my tribe, but also with our understanding of authentic Christianity. Real Christians were happy, not sad. They always had smiles on their faces. And they certainly didn’t flood their bed with tears.Read Post
God’s World: Very Good but Unfinished
Today I want to continue reflecting with you on major themes from the creation narrative in Genesis 1-2.
Six times in Genesis 1 God saw that what he has made was good. Then, after creating humankind, “God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good” (1:31). This verse, along with theological reflection on the perfection of God, has suggested to many that God made the world perfect. How could a holy God create anything less than perfect?
Yet, Genesis is clear that God’s world was not perfect in the sense of being complete.Read Post
Let My Heart Be Moved by the Things That Move the Heart of God
Bob Pierce used to say, “Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God.” As this happened in Pierce’s life, he acted, seeking to feed the hungry, provide shelter for the homeless, and care for the orphan. In 1950, Bob Pierce’s God-inspired broken heart led him to found World Vision International, a Christian humanitarian organization that has touched millions of children and adults throughout the world.
Pierce’s desire to have his heart broken by the things that break God’s heart is inspiring and challenging. I pray that God would help me to have such a tender, vulnerable heart. As I reflect on the opening chapters of Genesis, I find myself asking for something similar, but even broader. I’m asking that my heart be moved by the things that move the heart of God. I want to care about what God cares about, to love what God loves, to value what God values, to delight in that which delights the heart of God.Read Post