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CREATION, KINGDOM, HOME

Ellen Myers

God created man in His own image and likeness and gave him dominion over the works of His hands (Genesis 1:26,28). He provided man and animals abundantly with green herbs for food (Gen. 1:29-30), He provided a mist going up from the earth to water the whole face of the ground (Gen.2:6). He planted the garden of Eden and put man in charge to dress and to keep it (Gen.2:8,15). Man named all the animals, expressing their God-created identity, that is, their true essence (Gen.2:19-20). Then God made the first woman to be the man's helper and companion, "bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh" (Gen.2:23). He thereby laid the foundation for marriage and family (Gen.2:24). In their blessedness and innocence in God's pristine, perfect creation the man and his wife were in perfect communion with their glorious Creator and with each other, "naked and not ashamed" (Gen.2:25).

This blessed state of God's original creation is man's and all creation's true home, lost by the Fall. Its restoration is the goal and purpose of man's redemption and salvation in Jesus Christ, It already begins here and now in God's regenerate people, and it extends to all that they touch, for Christ lives in them as their new life (Gal.2:20). This true home of man and all creation will be fully revealed at Christ's Coming Again, for "When Christ Who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory" (Col.3:4), As George MacDonald put it, "The Kingdom of Heaven has come near us that we may enter into it, and be all at home together. Kingdom and home are one," Home is the place and state where all is well for all who dwell there, where "Mercy and truth have met together, righteousness and peace have kissed" (Psalm 85:10). Yes, God's kingdom is the perfect home for God's creation and especially for man made in God's own image and likeness. The whole creation groans and travails in pain while hoping and waiting for the full restoration and Christ-like liberty of the sons of God (Romans 8:19-22).

The Fall was our first parents' rebellion against our Creator and King. They chose to "be as gods" themselves rather than submit to His command not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 3). His command was given for their good, and their insubordination only brought them harm, just as God had warned. Immediately upon their act of disobedience they felt shame at their nakedness and attempted to hide from God Whom they now feared. When He questioned the woman, she blamed the serpent; the man blamed the woman and implicitly God Himself. Thus, having broken their communion with God, they lost communion with each other and the rest of God's creation as well. They passed on their disintegration to their posterity and to the rest of the world: disintegration of their created identity or essence (no longer in God's perfect image and likeness), of fellowship with each other, and disintegration of their right relationship with animals, plants and the very ground they had to till for their physical sustenance. Their first son became the first murderer who shed his own brother's blood (Genesis 4). No longer was the world man's home but rather the scene of man's self-assertiveness, culminating in hatred and murder of his fellow men. And so it has remained ever after as scoffers deny God, His creation, the Flood He sent in Noah's day, the Return of Christ, and the final fiery judgment to come (II Peter 3).

As in all generations, so today only a small remnant of men exists who are hungering and thirsting for God and His righteousness and long for being truly at home with Him in His Kingdom, As they grow in closeness to Him their Creator, Lord and their Father in Christ, they long to spread their new life in Him in all its blessedness, peace and joy to the whole world, as Christ commanded them (Matthew 28:18-20). They become good neighbors, brothers and sisters, fathers, mothers and children. Their very dwelling places on this earth become as it were little gardens of Eden, visible parts of God's Kingdom where God, man and the rest of creation are again at home with each other.

This is why true Christian people are hospitable, gladly opening their homes and hearts to their neighbors. This writer was drawn to Christ by a dear Christian woman who made her poor room a place of refuge and help to all who called on her, Wealth is not needed for hospitality; it may even become an obstacle to it whenever people let their possessions take precedence over communion with other people, and hence with God Himself, Today, as in all affluent societies throughout history, children with their insistent calls upon their parents' money and time are especially dreaded by those who prize wealth and "self-fulfillment" above all else. Margaret Sanger, the founder of the modern Planned Parenthood movement, scorned the poor because they kept having many children. Yet to welcome one's own children into the world is to obey God's commandment given to man immediately upon his creation (Genesis 1:28). George MacDonald and his wife, living in the still largely Christian nineteenth century, had eleven children. In addition they adopted three others as well as the mother of two of them who was dying of consumption. This despite their own lifelong poverty and despite MacDonald's almost constant ill-health! No wonder C. S. Lewis praises MacDonald for being "hospitable as only the poor can be." Today large families like MacDonald's are disdained in the wealthy, jaded, "post-Christian" West, and even forcibly prevented in Communist China where women are aborted by government order when pregnant for the second time, Abortion, which destroys a human being in its own mother's womb, its first God-created home, is now legal almost everywhere on earth, and an open, massive affront to God the Creator and King. Euthanasia, the intentional killing of the handicapped, infirm and old who are no longer wanted in our health- and youth-obsessed society, is already becoming acceptable and even court-sanctioned as well. No one can feel at home--loved and welcome--in this generation.

The "nuclear family," now the norm in Western society, is largely based upon rampant individualism and self-assertion. Marriage has become a "contract between consenting adults" rather than the "one flesh," the life-long integral union and communion between man and wife which God Himself ordained in the beginning (Gen.2:21-24, Matthew 19:3-9). Communion with God in ail human relationships is overlooked, neglected or deliberately rejected, Men, women and their few children go their separate ways. Tens of thousands of children run away from their parents, and parents "throw away" their children because they can no longer tolerate their rebelliousness or else because they themselves rebel against parenthood. All too often a "home" is merely a place to watch television, to sleep, to store or display one's possessions, and to receive one's mail and messages. Meals no longer reunite families; dining out and convenience foods allow each individual to come and go independently, "Latchkey children" return from school to empty dwellings. Pre-school tots are warehoused in day care centers. Even where marriage partners are still together and outwardly provide for their children, true communion, true hospitality, and care for one another are all too often absent. Family members are not open to each other and unwilling to help bear each others' burdens, They want to gratify only themselves and see spouses and especially children as obstructions to their own "self-fulfillment." Hence divorce and child abuse as well as juvenile suicide are skyrocketing.

Because people no longer take the trouble to really know and listen to each other, professional counselors increasingly replace family communication and communion, Along with the disintegration of the family goes loneliness and a feeling of being useless and meaningless. This is because the real world, created by the God of the Bible who is Himself a communion of Three Persons in One, is intensely personal. No impersonal, commercially based, paid counseling can possibly take the place of personal communion among people which alone can help them to be truly "at home" with each other. When Jesus Christ summed up all the law and the prophets in the two Great Commandments to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, minds, souls and strength, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. He only paraphrased His answer to the Tempter that man does not live by bread alone but by every word of God (Matthew 4:4). We die when we reject any word of God even as Adam and Eve died spiritually and began to die physically when they sought "self-fulfillment" by eating of the forbidden fruit. All temptation, beginning with the Serpent's in Eden, consists in denying true reality and suggesting that we can "be as gods" by making up a reality of our own. The result of giving in to temptation is always the wounding and destruction of our selves we want to gratify, and the loss of our true home in the true world God created.

The key to living in God's created reality, the only true reality there is, is therefore to cease listening to our self-will, and to submit to God and His will instead, Such willed obedience is impossible to us as we are, "dead in trespasses and sins" (Ephesians 2:1). This is why we must be "born again from above" (John 3:3, 5-7). We must receive Him and let Him live His life in us moment by moment as He gives us power to become the sons of God (John 1:12-13). We will not have peace on earth, good will among men, home and communion in world, nation and family without Him and His life from above in us. As long as we persist in wanting "to be as gods," living by our own notions of good and evil (even though we might achieve a measure of "law and order"), this world will continue to be not our home but our battle and burial ground, We must understand God's Kingdom as the perfect home where it is more blessed to give than to receive, where we serve each other, where we make each other welcome and comfortable, where we bear each other's burdens, where we listen, really listen to our brothers, sisters and neighbors with Christ's compassion, Our compassion, like His compassion, must extend to the poor, the old, the lame and the handicapped, beginning with the babes in the womb and extending to the dying. It must be personal, not the mere administration of tax-financed "social services" which can never make their recipients feel at home. Like God the Father and like Jesus Christ we must be hospitable, not casting out any who come to us (John 6:37). We must take time for others, or rather, realize that "our" time belongs to God Who sends us our fellow human beings so we might be as Christ to them. To live in Christ and know Christ living in us is just this, to spend all the time He gives us moment by moment loving Him and loving our neighbor as ourselves,

The lesser creatures around us, our animals and plants, our very houses and goods, should also belong to our Kingdom, our home in Christ Jesus and God our Father, God Himself cared for them from the beginning by providing their food and shelter (Psalm 104:10-28). We who are His stewards, kings and priests should take joy in their well-being, their rejoicing in being in our care. As we provide for them under our Provident God and Savior, our "El Shaddai" (the "nurturing God," Genesis 17:1), we provide for our own pleasure as well, It means a life of moment-by-moment service and care for others. Only by living thus we are blessed and "taste and see that our Lord is good" (Psalm 34:8). Only thus we know that at our God's right hand there are pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:11).

A wife and homemaker who rebels against God's created reality seeks first of all her own self-fulfillment and gratification. She cares and provides for others only to the extent that she feels compelled to do so by prevailing "community standards" and to enhance her self-image. A godly homemaker, on the other hand, rejoices when her home and family are well cared for by her diligent labor (Proverbs 31:10-31). They, not she, come first loving service to God and neighbors, not "self-fulfillment," is her purpose in life, And by God's altogether perfect providence, making a home for others gives her home and complete self-fulfillment as well. Now all men and women regenerate in Christ are to be such good "homemakers" in the good will of our Creator and Lord. "Homemaking" and "dominion" under God (Genesis 1:28) are one and the same. The home we are called to make and inhabit is none other than the reality of His Kingdom.

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