Summary: Eden is not a place but an experience. It is not a garden in the East but a garden of the soul. The human spirit is always on a quest for something more, something better.
The Quest for Eden
Genesis 1:26 – 2:3
When people ask us about our charges as pastors and we speak of our time in Bermuda the response is generally the same – “that's tough but somebody has to do it.” No doubt the idyllic island with its Aqua Ocean, towering palm trees and gleaming sands of beaches like Horseshoe Bay cannot be ignored. The pastels and bold colours of houses and vehicles, the breath-taking botanical gardens or the aroma of fields of Easter lilies is really a reflection of the spirit and the heart of the people. When we think the Garden of Eden, the home of the first created human beings one could easily generate a picture similar to the Bermuda Islands.
• Garden of Eden in Genesis – many theories and hypothesis of its original location, time-lines. Finding Eden is about as challenging as trying to find the lost city Atlantis. Suggested places include Mongolia, Ethiopia, India and Turkey. We could spend a lot of time talking about many fascinating details and theories about Eden
• Genesis’ information is critical though not detailed. Eden – picture of “heaven on earth”... productivity, rest and relationship; being in harmony with all of life and creation ... perfection at its highest
Eden is a fascinating story of God creating life and after all his creation he decided to finish his work with the icing on the cake, the jewel atop the heap – he created us in his image! It is then we lived in Eden, and the story is a story of love, innocence and sadly, betrayal. The end result was expulsion from Eden, broken relationships and incomplete lives.
Since that time the human race lives in pursuit of Eden. Unlike the Genesis account, Eden is not a place but an experience. It is not a garden in the East but a garden of the soul. The human spirit is always on a quest for something more, something better. We think having this or doing that will mean we’ll reach the pinnacle of fulfillment, only to arrive there and discover nothing’s really changed. The reason has something to do with the fact that God “planted eternity in the human heart” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). We were made for more than “this”.
We can only hope to experience Eden when we understand it is a lifestyle not a landmass. God invites us to walk with Him and live in Eden! Eden is the experience of wholeness in the world you inhabit. You don’t need to book an international flight or leave it behind after a few days! Eden can be your dwelling experience for the rest of your life! God invites us to live fully satisfied with the knowledge of who we’re wired to be and knowing that, to walk the glistening beaches of purpose, take in the aroma of the gardens of relationship and experience the gentle touch of the Divine.
If you want an Eden experience today and tomorrow and the day after that, it involves understanding
1. YOU WERE MADE TO RULE – 1:26, 28b; 2:15
• A.k.a. work
Work was never intended to be a curse ... the purposes we’ve attached to work make it burdensome and tasteless as well as the sense of urgency for survival’s sake.
Author Nancy Ortberg writes about work. She highlights the attitudes prevalent in society such as “Thank God it’s Friday. I hate my job. I can’t wait until I retire so I can start living.” She notices how work is meant to be another way of working out the image of God that resides in us. She says, “Christians think we need to separate our “work life” from our “God life”. What we fail to realize is that work can be one of the primary places of spiritual formation in our lives.”
Work was meant to be wholesome, pleasurable and fulfilling. It was only after Adam and Eve disobeyed God and in doing so reaped God’s judgement on labour being hard and the ground not yielding its crop that work became a nine-to-five legislation, or a means to an end … I work to get a pay check so I can have things and go places. That’s not Eden. That’s an epidemic. Recapture the truth you were made to work.
Reaching Eden involves realizing
2. YOU WERE MADE TO REPRODUCE – 1:28
At first we assume this instruction of reproduction means having children. It is certainly that but even more than that. To reproduce is to copy, replicate, duplicate, or imitate. To imitate God is to give oneself to a life of creation and community.
• Other ideas of reproduction:
• It’s been said, “To read the Bible is to know that creation does not remain in the past tense.”
• Someone else once suggested, “We’re never godlier than when we give.” I suggest an addendum to this by offering we’re never godlier than when we create (i.e. reproduce) – e.g. The value and satisfaction of planting a garden (I’m going to regret that comment!)