Garden City, by Mark Comer
What is the “Garden-City?” In the beginning, God created a Garden, the Garden of Eden, for man to live in. At the end, God will create a New Jerusalem that will largely resemble the Garden of Eden. The new Earth that John references in Revelation will be a reflection of God’s original Garden, but furthermore it will be a city, a Garden-Like-City, called the New Jerusalem. According to God’s design, the Garden of Eden was never intended to remain a garden. The garden was created so that man could extract materials from it and then use those materials to construct wonderful objects. When Jesus returns, the Garden-City will be filled with buildings, streets, transportation, computers, technology, and all other aspects of man’s creation. Man is designed to work and create, because that is exactly what God did. When God created the Garden of Eden, he worked for 6 days. Since men are a reflection of God, we are supposed to work. Also note that God “created.” He made something new. Similarly, men are supposed to create. When God created man and female, he told the male and female to “fill the earth and subdue it.” It is easy to see that we are designed to work, and that our work should be contributing to God’s Garden-City. Every job that adds value to humanity and does not strictly go against God’s law (such as assassins and porn stars) glorifies God, because all our jobs work together to create the Garden-City. Concisely, the point of this book is to encourage readers to find fulfilling jobs. I think this is excellent! I wish that I read this book several years ago. For a long time, I wondered if my career was “acceptable” in God’s eyes. John Comer makes is clear that any job that contributes in some way to the Garden-City is exactly what God intended. This means that firefighters, engineers, nurses, plumbers, teachers, etc all glorify God and are admirable jobs! I mean, how much would humanity be able to create if we were all pastors and missionaries? Probably not much. And that lack of creation would fail to meet God’s goal. John Comer not only encourages us to work, but he also encourages us to find work that we are passionate about. I love the question: If money was not a concern, and you could do anything, what would you do? Many people immediately respond with beach or travel. But after you finished traveling and you became bored, then what would you do? What fulfills you? What excites you and gets you up in the morning?
When the author talks about the creation story, he compares God to Marduk, and the Genesis story to the “Enuma Elish.” This is not the first time that I’ve come across Marduk and the Babylonian creation myth. It’s not even the second or third time. I think it is time that I read this story and learn more about Marduk and why he is so frequently referenced when speakers talk about the Genesis creation story.
John Comer talks a lot about the Sabbath. What are my thoughts about Sabbath? First of all, I think that I do a poor job of resting and observing the Sabbath. I am always working towards a accomplishing a goal. I try to pack as much studying, paid work, exercise, and personal learning into every day that I can. According to John, I keep coming back for that extra dose of morphine that comes with checking something off my to-do list. Work, just like any other good thing, can become unhealthy if it becomes a god. Sex, food, exercise, work, rest – these are all examples of good things that can be perverted. Therefore, it is important to maintain a healthy relationship with work. I think Sabbath is a great way to keep one’s relationship with work healthy. It reminds us to be humble, because we cannot do everything. Even God rested on the seventh day. We need rest. We need daily sleep, and similarly, we need a weekly rest day. Personally, I do a poor job of observing the Sabbath regularly. I fall into the trap of thinking that there is more to get done and that I don’t have time to rest. I think this is the wrong mindset. There will always be more work to do. Always. Part of observing the Sabbath is recognizing your limitations, and humbly accepting that you cannot do it all. People like John Comer (the author) and Ben Shapiro advocate highly for making time every week to turn off and rest. In fact, every person that I speak with who implements a strict Sabbath day every week, speaks highly of the benefits. I think that it will be incredibly difficult for me to implement, but I would really like to try. I think it’s worth the effort. Yes, the more that I think about it, the more that I want to implement a strict Sabbath day during my week! That would be wonderful. Is this something that I can implement now? Or wait until I have a family? Why can’t I start now?
[Genesis 2:9] “And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food.” John Comer points out that in the original Hebrew language, the order of events in a sentence is extremely important. Therefore, it is significant that God says firstly that trees are “pleasant to the sight” and secondly that trees are “good for food.” Beauty is important. Just think about the beauty of ancient cathedrals, and think about why we are attracted to beautiful people and beautiful landscapes. Beautiful landscapes, people, and objects naturally catch our eyes. Why? Because God values beauty! As an engineer, I am often tempted to sacrifice beauty for functionality. I fall into the trap of thinking that office decorations and paintings are not useful. But I think that’s wrong. Something that I’ve been learning recently is to appreciate beauty, whether that is the beauty of a woman or the beauty of a well-decorated office.
Regardless of what we do with our lives, the most important thing to remember is that we are servants. I work to serve God and to serve other people. Your job as an engineer, accountant, nurse, plumber, construction worker, programmer, teacher, factor worker is to serve other people. I think this is something very important to remember. Build a specific skill and use that skill to serve. The amount of money that you have, the size of your house, the publicity of job – none of these things matter. If you work and rest according to God’s design, in a profession that contributes to society and utilizes your skills, then you are acting appropriately. I also think that each person should work to develop a specific skill that he/she can use to contribute to the Garden-City. It takes time, energy, and commitment to develop a specific skill, but I think it’s important to become specialized. We live in a diverse world, in which we need many types of people with many different types of skills. It is a world filled with people who have specialized roles, and all of the specialized roles work together to build God’s Garden-City. Use your skill to serve God and contribute to creating a Garden-City that is filled with beauty.