Wednesday, July 20, 2005

God, man and a puppy

God created Adam for the very purpose of finding pleasure in his union with the Creator of the universe. Before Adam was given any assignment, role or responsibility, he was put in a place conducive for intimacy with the Almighty.

“The LORD God took Adam
and placed him in the garden of Eden.”

(Genesis 2:15 )

It was out of this intimacy that Adam was to serve. All of his daily activities were to be fueled by this common-union.

This original common-union is one of the most vivid pictures of love. Love, was to be the primary expression of Adam’s existence. Love towards God and love towards His creation. Love towards God was to simply be expressed by a drawing near to the ever-present union of the spirit. Centuries later, James would exhort followers of Christ to “draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8). Adam knew this first hand.

This continuous drawing near can be illustrated by looking at a young puppy. Have you ever seen a young puppy? As soon as it sees you, hears you or even smells you – it comes running. Its first expression upon drawing near to you is to give you a big kiss, or shall we say lick. Interestingly enough, this is the same word picture the New Testament gives us for worship. It comes from the Greek word proskuneo, which means “to kiss, like a dog licking his master’s hand” and “to lean towards and kiss one’s hand in token of reverence.”[1] In other words, as Adam was placed in the place of God’s pleasure and delight, worship flowed as a natural response. It becomes quite fascinating, when we look at what Adam was put in the garden to do.

As Adam walked with God, he was to “cultivate” and “keep” where he had been placed. Adam’s response-ability was two-fold: to cultivate and to keep. First, Adam was appointed to cultivate the garden. Cultivate is the Hebrew ‘abad, which means, “to till, servant, work, worshipper, service, labour, to work for another, to serve another by labour.”[2] For Adam, serving, working and worshipping were all to be one and the same. Just as the Hebrew word for cultivate carries the idea of serving and worshipping being intertwined, the same is true of the New Testament Greek word for latris.[3] Nonetheless, God commissioned Adam to be a worshipping servant.

Secondly, Adam was authorized to keep the garden. Keep is the Hebrew word shamar, which means, “to keep, watch, preserve, attend, being careful, beware, bodyguard, defending, diligently keep, and giving heed.” It carries the idea of a “doorkeeper, gatekeeper, a guard, guardsmen, a sentry standing vigilantly to keep watch, securing the place for protection.”[4]

Adam had been given much. Adam, the master gardener, had been given an assignment from God to diligently guard all that he had been given. Often one of the things a gardener would watch for and keep out of the garden would be a serpent. This is the very first beast that subtlety slithered into Adam’s garden. In doing so, the serpent swayed Adam’s affections away from God. The results, as we will see in later chapters, were very costly.

In First Things First, A. Roger Merrill tells of a business consultant who decided to landscape his grounds. He hired a woman with a doctorate in horticulture who was extremely knowledgeable. Because the business consultant was very busy and traveled a lot, he kept emphasizing to her the need to create his garden in a way that would require little or no maintenance on his part. He insisted on automatic sprinklers and other labor-saving devices. Finally she stopped and said, “There’s one thing you need to deal with before we go any further. If there’s no gardener, there’s no garden!”[5]

Many Christians are like this business consultant, desiring to have a garden of spiritual life, without having to cultivate and keep the garden. Without a gardener there is no garden. Likewise, without cultivation and active keeping there is no growth in the spiritual life of the disciple. How often do we Christians wish we could set up automatic “spiritual sprinklers” to water our gardens? How often do we wish there was an automatic “pruning” process, that didn’t require the effort of surrendering our self-love? As it is with gardening, there is no Christianity without the ever-present active Gardener.

Adam was usurped by the craftiness of the serpent. We must heed God’s lesson from this account and not be caught unaware. We must maintain an attitude that is alert and watchful. We must know what we are watching for to effectively watch. Our senses must be spiritually trained to discern.

“But solid food belongs to those who are of full age,
that is, those who by reason of use
have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”

(Hebrews 5:14)

[1] New Testament Greek Lexicon 4352. (pros-koo-neh’-o).
[2] Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon, (‘abad – 5647) (aw-bad’)
[3] New Testament Greek Lexicon 3000 (lat-ryoo’-o). There is another Greek word that carries both the meaning to serve and minister. It is diakonia (dee-ak-on-ee’-ah – Ibid. ref. no. 1248). Today we often glamourize the ministry and look down upon serving as if it’s second class. In other words, we esteem the preacher, who lines people up for prayer and think less of the guy in the sound booth merely serving. Yet, in the New Testament, it was one’s willingness to serve that qualified them to minister, not simply their ability to communicate and captivate the crowds. Diakonia means, “ministry, ministration, ministering.” “service, ministering, esp. of those who execute the commands of others,” “of those who by the command of God proclaim and promote religion among men,” “of the office of the apostles and its administration,” “of the office of prophets, evangelists, elders etc.,” “the ministration of those who render to others the offices of Christian affection esp. those who help meet need by either collecting or distributing of charities,” “the service of those who prepare and present food,” “to attend to anything, that may serve another’s interests,” “to minister a thing to one, to serve one or by supplying any thing.” This word is used to describe both functions in Acts 6. “And the twelve summoned the congregation of the disciples and said, ‘It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve (diakoneo) tables” (Acts 6:2). “But we will devote ourselves to prayer, and the ministry (diakoneo) of the word.” (Acts 6:4).
[4] Strongs Exhaustive, 8104, shamar (shaw-mar’).
[5] Edward K. Rowell, Fresh Illustrations for Preaching and Teaching (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1997), p. 146.


dailyjoy said...

Question........Will this blog continue after the "GodWalkers" series is completed?

godwalker said...

good chance :-))

godwalker said...

dailyjoy please email i have a question for you :-)