The Gospel for the City in Genesis 2

Genesis Two portrays the kingdom of God in its original harmony. God creates man in his own image and places him in His kingdom, a garden-temple, in which Adam offers priestly service to God by extending the garden-temple throughout creation through order and beauty and dominion in the worship of God. God graciously gives Adam a wife with whom he partners in his priestly duties of extending the kingdom of God. All is in harmony, God with man, man with the world, and man with woman.

There is only one restriction in the Garden/temple – ‘to not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” God lovingly protected humanity from the experiential knowledge of evil. The only way to know evil experientially was to do evil by rebelling against God and eating of the forbidden tree. Adam knew that good and evil existed because of the nature of the tree. He has only experienced good up to this point and need not experience evil, unless he rebels.

Again we are reminded as we read that this harmony has been replaced with struggle. There now exists a tension in man’s relationship with God, with the world, and with other human beings. We know not only the existence of evil, we know the experience of evil, and it has ruined us.

The harmonious world that once was is broken and cries out for a redeemer – One who can defeat the evil that disrupts the harmony of God’s creation, a redeemer who can restore humankind to the priestly work of extending order and beauty and dominion in the worship of God.

Perhaps nowhere is this loss of harmony seen more clearly than in the city. The brokenness of man’s relationship with the world is seen vividly in the plague of poverty, blighted, trash ridden neighborhoods, polluted rivers and streams, poor air quality, diminishing open space, etc. Also, the brokenness of human relationships is seen in the prevalence of divorce, single parent homes, homelessness, economic oppression, racism, and violence. But, most evident is the spirit of rebellion against God. Like Adam city-dwellers often choose the experience of evil rather than worshipful obedience to the Creator God. Rather than do the priestly work of serving and worshiping God, through extending the beauty and order of the Kingdom of God, we choose rather to idolize the created world or rape it for our own selfish purposes.

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On September 10, 1970 I came to understand the great love of God for me, a sinner and a rebel. That evening I received God’s forgiveness and a new life through Jesus Christ, who died in my place and rose again to offer forgiveness and new life. I have been senior pastor for over 30 years planting two churches in Buckingham, PA and Queens, NY and serving two other churches in Brooklyn, NY and Roslyn, PA. I am currently the lead pastor at Grace Church of Philly.

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