The creation stories in Genesis tell us that the world God originally created was a paradise. According to the stories, we humans screwed it up in the Garden of Eden, and we’ve been dealing with the consequences of that every since.
So we all know that after the Fall, man was required to toil and eventually die. All of human history is the story of the slow return to the way God originally intended things to be. We believers expect that someday God will get us back to the Garden–to life as it would have been without sin.
OK, that’s all Sunday School stuff. But there is an interesting question embedded in all this. We know what man’s place in the world is now, but what was it before the Fall? In other words, what was man created to do in the perfect world?
Recently I asked my class of 4th and 5th grade kids to answer that question. I got some fine and traditional answers. Man was created to worship God was the most common answer. One boy’s answer was even surprisingly close to what the Bible tells us. Surprising, because even though the Bible has a very clear and direct answer to the question, not many Christians are able to answer it.
So what did God create man to do in the perfect world? The answer is in Genesis 2: 8 and 15.
Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed…The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.
So very plainly God created man to work the garden, and “take care of it.”
When we trash, abuse, pollute, and neglect the earth, we are not only behaving disrespectfully and contemptuously towards God’s creation, we are doing the very opposite of what God created us to do. Man was created to care for creation. And doing so is an act of worship.
We are stardust. We are golden. We are caught in the devil’s bargain. And we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.