Sometime last year I wrote a post about our purpose as Christians. It’s been one of my more popular posts, but while I listened to Garden City, I felt like I might have shortchanged some people with my answer there.
So, I point you in another direction that will help you untangle the knotted thread of life’s meaning:
Garden City: Work, Rest, and the Art of Being Human by John Mark Comer
It starts in the garden
One of the first stories I turn to in the Bible is Genesis 1, because it is the first ancient creation story that looked upon creation, creativity and work as good things.
It is also where John-Mark Comer starts his unpacking of why we’re here. The theology behind it is rich, and I recommend you pick up the book yourself, but it boils down to this:
We were made in God’s image to partner with Him in continuing the creation story. To draw out the richness from the raw materials that is already here.
The first half of the book unpacks these two statements in detail, often causing little lightbulbs of illumination to strike my imagination while I listened to it.
There were two moments of illumination that I would like to share quickly:
- If you can choose what you want to do with your life (keeping in mind that you will be able to take care of yourself financially with your choice), you are rich. Only the rich, or those with some form of security have the luxury of worrying about what they’ll do with their lives.
- God is a prolific worker who is ultra-creative and that we’re made in that image. It is part of our very fabric to work hard to extract the bounty from this good creation.
It’s not all work and no play…
The second part of the book covers the topic of rest. Not the “day off” to loaf, or shop, or write type of rest, but the type of rest where you enjoy the fruit of your six days’ of hard labor.
Again, John-Mark Comer shares a rich theology where the idea of Sabbath isn’t a dated, legalistic requirement, but rather an invitation to enjoy more the creation.
It is something we do to emulate God, who even though He is God, chooses to rest and enjoy the fruit of His labor.
It Ends in a City
If escapism theology* is one of the reasons you’re having difficulties with the Christian faith – here’s a bit of good news for you: That’s not the point of Christianity.
In the final chapters of the book, Comer explains that in our rhythms of work (working well) and resting (well) contribute to making a new Creation.
This new creation is a place where the raw potential available in creation has been drawn out and molded into a city. A space where justice reigns and order has been created.
I think John-Mark was inspired (or perhaps influenced) by Rob Bell’s Nooma, Trees, in this section of the book. So, I’ll quote Rob Bell’s ending to the Trees Nooma:
“What is a city but a collection of small gardens?”
*Escapism theology is the concept that humanity needs to get away from this mess we call Earth and go “home” to heaven.