IT SEEMS TO me that many churches avoid the first and last pages of the Bible because they don’t want to get side-tracked into Crazyland. It’s understandable: there’s lots of flaky interpretations out there that are more suitable to the cinema than the sanctuary.
But sidestepping the challenging parts of Genesis and Revelation is a bit like coming into a movie five minutes after it started and leaving before the end. You get a bit lost. If we don’t really know where we came from and why, or where we are going, we tend to end up wandering around in circles in the middle.
Now, I don’t pretend to be any kind of Bible expert, but I see two things in the early pages of Genesis that I believe are critical for our understanding as Christians. And maybe never more so that at the start of a New Year, when we’re all raring to head out and make a difference for God.
Boiled down, they are this: we go into the world from a place of rest and relationship.
Each day in the creation accounts begins with the evening, followed by the morning. Seems like God went to bed first! And given all that happened on the sixth day, it’s not unrealistic to presume that Adam and Even didn’t have time to begin their task of caring for the world then. So their first full day would have been the seventh—one of rest.
Yes, they were given a job to do, but even when it started, it doesn’t appear to have been arduous. The sweat and the thistles only came after the fall.
And then what about God’s apparent practice of walking in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve? Scripture isn’t explicit on this point, but it sure fits His nature and character. The idea that the only time He came down was to look for Adam and Eve after the fall is more in keeping with a grumpy old guy on a cloud saying, “Don’t make me come down there!”
But the question that God asks in Genesis 3:9: “Where are you?” is more that of a broken-hearted father than an angry taskmaster. He wants first to know where Adam is—his relational position—not what he has done.
Bottom line: in the coming year, God wants us to walk with Him. Not dash ahead or lag behind; that’s why we are admonished to “keep in step with the Spirit” (Gal. 5:25). Sure, there will be times when we are called to run and sweat. But we should do so from a place of ease and acceptance, to which we return to be renewed and refreshed.
If you have made big plans for the New Year, let me encourage you not to “hit the ground running.” Instead, hit the ground walking. With God.
Photo by Hammonton Photography on Trends Hype/CC BY-NC