The Tillers and The Keepers

The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. -Genesis 2:15

Dear members and friends,

It has been widely understood that God created the beautiful Garden of Eden for the sake of humans. However, there is another side to the story: God created humans to till the garden and keep it safe as stated in Genesis 2:15. The former understanding focuses on the rights of humans to control and take advantage of all living in the garden, while the later focuses on the duty and responsibility of humans to be the keepers of the God’s garden.

I have read many books and attended many workshops and lectures that focus on how to cultivate one’s happiness. In a way, the whole world seems to agree with the simple message: each human has right to pursue one’s happiness. Essentially, I agree with it, because I believe that God created humans to be happy. Yet, I’m often puzzled by the modern emphasis on an individualized and self-centered way of pursuing and obtaining happiness. In other words, the focus seems to be “my happiness” or even worse, “my happiness only” with an attitude of indifference to how it would impact others.

The old story in Genesis invites us to have a deep and thoughtful reflection on our life, especially how we pursue and cultivate our happiness. At the same time, it also suggests that a truer and lasting happiness might not be gained in a self-centered lifestyle, but though a selfless lifestyle. In a way, the truth is very simple: God is the unchanging and everlasting giver of life. And, humans can be truly happy only when they are in the presence of God. The only way to enter into the presence of God is to cultivate a life of giving in keeping with God’s example.

Blessings, Rev. Junchol Lee