Genesis 1-3… part 3.
For this part of our continuing examination of Genesis 1-3, I want to shift our focus from the macrocosmic to the microcosmic. We have already seen that these chapters have much to say about the role of injustice in society, but the question that we have left dangling for much of this is what does this say about justice in relation to the individual within society? Clearly we have to take into account the four overarching injustices before making a convincing argument about what it means for things to be “right” for the individual. Having already done so in the previous post, I’m going to now look at the individual in Genesis 1-3.
The thing about the four major injustices that I discussed in my last post is that they are intimately connected to the four major facets of man’s creation. In the creation of man, there are four things that he is given, or more appropriately, that he is made for. In the fall, mankind has since struggled to maintain any of the four. “So what are they?” I’m glad you asked…
The first thing that should stick out about man’s creation is that God gave him a home. As compared to the animals that God just kind of “made” and then let wander about, Adam was formed and then placed. The garden in Genesis existed solely because God had made it as man’s home. While many a theory exist about other functions of the garden, the context of the narrative makes it clear that God made it to put the man there. Why? Because after he was placed there, he was told to care for it. Without a home, justice is not served.
The second thing that man was made for is a family. After being given a home, God declares that it is not good for man to be alone. While this could create visions of snarky comments to be made about asking for directions or taking care of dirty underwear correctly, I think it sticks out that mankind is the only creature on the planet that was not obviously formed with the ability to procreate (needing male AND female to do so) from the outset. So God creates Eve and tells them to go make more of themselves. I find it interesting that God did this for Adam rather than merely creating a bunch of kids and presenting them to the man to raise. While part of that is merely my sideways sense of humour, it is also a massive dignifying of the marriage relationship. However, I digress and end up far ahead of myself in the process. So man is in need of a family.
The third thing that was given to man at his creation was an occupation. After being given a family and a home, God gives man the job of tending the garden and taking dominion of the planet. Remembering for the moment that horitcultural pursuits looked far different in the Garden of Eden than they do now (what with no curse and no clothes), it should be noted that man had a job… albeit, a rather non-stressful one, but a job nonetheless. Justice is not being done when man is idle.
The fourth thing (and arguably, the most important) is that man had the unique ability to commune and foster relationship with God. Given the uniqueness of man’s position as both the image-bearer and the one being able to talk with God, it becomes utterly scandalous that man would choose to walk away from that relationship. So justice requires that man be reunited with God.
While the demand of justice to return to this original station becomes quite obvious (let’s face it, if we don’t then things aren’t right), there is an even bigger question. Namely, why would God give us these things? In all of His wisdom, God didn’t seek to provide us with peons to stroke our ego, he didn’t give us servants, he didn’t give us foreign sports cars… he gave us a relationship with Him, a home, a family and an occupation. My conclusion is that God created us with these things because they are the exact desires that he had. God created the earth that he would have a home. God created man because he desired a family. God created a living order (as opposed to the robotic “toys” we sometimes wish we were) because he desired an occupation as the monarch and father of us all. So now the fun question gets posited to us as it has to many theologians throughout church history… what does it actually mean to be in the image of God? I think that here we have found a credible answer.
Justice on the individual level only happens when the desires of God are answered as much as the desires of man are answered. As Jesus put it, “what is it if a man gains the whole world and loses his soul?” If you have the huge house, the trophy spouse with the kids destined to be athletes and rocket scientists, and the perfect job… it does nothing if all it accomplishes is empowering you to sin. Does God have a home, a family and an occupation with you? If so, then glory! If not, this is the first step to obtaining justice.
Part 4 to come later.