“To Till and To Keep”: God’s first declaration of purpose for humanity at Creation

“God places Adam in the garden of Eden to “till and to keep it. The Hebrew words here that describe Adam’s vocation consist of abad and shamar. The former means to serve,” even to the point of being a slave. The latter not only means “to keep. but also “to watch or preserve.” God puts Adam (and Eve) in the Garden to slavishly care for and preserve it.2 So, not only does God want humans to have an intimate relationship with all nonhuman creation, God wants them to give themselves totally to it just as God gives Godself totally to humans. Humans serve as God’s image on earth (Gen 1: 26) by mirroring God’s kenosis, or total self-giving.

All this suggests that just as automated orphanages that take care of children without providing them the love they need fail to produce vibrant children humans who cat organic food and install solar panels out of a sense of duty or of avoiding environmental calamity miss the boat. Despite their good intentions, they ultimately will fail to produce the environmental benefits they anticipate.

Understanding why this is so requires an understanding of God’s ecological intervention, of God’s plan for healing creation. This intervention involves three stages: the Incarnation, Jesus’s death and resurrection, and Pentecost.

As humans, we tend to interpret the Incarnation as The Word becoming human, which, of course, did occur. However, the scriptures point to a much larger reality that the Word became “flesh” (John 1:14); i.e., that It became part of the created order, became matter. God became, therefore, part of the entire created order, not just part of humanity.”

—”Efficacious Ethics: The Trinity, Environment, and Green Design by Robert Robin Gottfried” in “Ecotheology and Nonhuman Ethics in Society: A Community of Compassion: A Community of Compassion (Ecocritical Theory and Practice) .”

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I am a Web developer with a background in theology, sociology and communications. I love to read, watch movies, sports, and am looking for authentic church.

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