I was walking down the road and passed a young couple, she sitting, he standing slightly to one side, facing her, discussing some matter outside a pub. If I pay attention to other people at all, it’s usually with a particular agenda in mind. This time, I asked myself “What does God want for them? How does he want their future to be?” The question sent me off down some interesting tracks – and took me back to the beginning.
In the beginning God made a world in all its multi-foliate glory. As the last word of creation he made human beings, male and female. He placed them together. He commanded them to rule the earth as his own image in that place. He told them to have children.
Too often, if we ask what God wants for us, we conjure up images that are appalling in their banality. We think in terms of negatives – no sex, no drugs, no violence, no greed, etc. etc. The negatives are necessary, but leave us with little to rejoice over. We need a broader view.
Going back to the beginning gives us perspective. God made everything, and said it was very good. God gave us dominion over all of this goodness. We’re meant to enjoy it. It is wonderful! In all its complexity and hard-edged reality, the world we have been given is a rich, exciting place. We are meant to work in the garden; not just slash-and-burn agriculture, but a real engagement with the whole of the creation. Through working with and within it we come to greater understandings of particular entities (plants, animals, geological features), of ecosystems, of the entire universe from quarks and leptons through to galaxies and the noosphere. We are meant to reap the fruits of our labours and enjoy them – the bible frequently refers to wine and good food as elements of celebration. We are meant to care for the creation – to ‘tend’ the garden – exercising our own God-imaging creativity in discovery and invention to bring new things into existence, and to find new ways for ourselves and the creation to be.
And we are meant to do this together. Together with each other, and especially in the companionship of sexual relationships – no apologies for the goodness of marriage – and family relationships, broadening out to become relationships between families and tribes and larger groups. A party with no guests has poor fare, no matter how good the grub. Ultimately, we are meant to do this in company with God; God who walks with us in the garden. God who storms through human history as the Yahweh of Israel. God who enters fully into human life – and death – in the crucified Christ, and God who comes alongside by his Holy Spirit. The feast of His Kingdom is a riot of richness. This creation we enjoy is a foretaste of the new heavens and earth that are to come.
What does God want for us?
He wants us to be who we are – the free-to-choose creatures he has made, able to image him in the context of his very good creation. Able to join him and each other in the loving work of re-creation. Able to go with him on an adventure into eternity of which this is just the first page. Definitely something to look forward to.