|A Well-supplied Workshop|
Servants All (5)
A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers. The name of the first is Pishon. It is thee one that flowed around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. And gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there. Genesis 2:11, 12
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The casual mention of gold and other precious ores and gems, buried in the ground, shows us yet another way that the creation serves the followers of Jesus Christ as they serve the Lord in building His Church. Everything that we use to do the work of the Lord – the laptop on which I compose these words, the computer which brings them to you, and everything else – is constructed from materials that occur “naturally” in the world around us. Of course we don’t mine plastic out of the ground; that comes from petroleum, which we do extract from the ground. And paper doesn’t occur “naturally.” It’s made from trees. Just so everything we use.
The cosmos holds a vast and wondrous array of resources to challenge the creativity and industry of human beings and to provide them with everything they need to survive and flourish. Food, building materials, chemicals, medicines, electricity, the CD of Celtic music that accompanies me at my work – all these derive from the creation which yields its resources and secrets to people with vision and a willingness to learn and to work. This is another area where, I fear, we too easily take the creation for granted. The world is here and we use it up, with hardly a thought – except within limited parameters – of what God’s intentions for the stuff of this world might be. What if chemicals couldn’t be mixed to make printing ink or medicine? Or if the wood from trees didn’t cohere for years and years? Or if there wasn’t enough food or materials for shelter? Then we’d think the world was a hostile environment for humans – like living on the moon. Everything in the creation invites men to gear up their creativity and get to work building a better and more prosperous world.
This, of course, is not by accident. God has made the world as it is. He puts the gold in the ground, together with the onyx, so that men might draw them out, refine and shape them, and put them to use. Most people do not use the resources of the earth for building the Church. However, this is why the Lord upholds and directs them, to build up His Body so that His goodness, beauty, bounty, wisdom, power, and glory might increasingly be known throughout the earth (Hab. 2:14).
Not everything we do with the resources of the earth is directly related to building the Church. The creation serves indirectly as well. The man who buys a plot of land, builds a market, and sells all manner of goods is not thinking primarily about how his work will benefit the Church. But God is, and if His people are, they will try to discover ways of engaging merchants and patronizing their businesses that will not only conduce to their own benefit and the wellbeing of the entire community, but will also afford opportunities to make the Name of Jesus known in a variety of ways. The creation is God’s servant and ours, a glorious and well-supplied workshop for securing the resources we need so that we might grow in the grace of the Lord and further the work of His Kingdom.
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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture references are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright 2001by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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