Dear Flora First Christian,

I want to take the first part of this article to say “thank you” to all of you! You’ve paved the way for us to move from Minnesota to Indiana. You’ve cleaned and painted the parsonage, and moved in all of our furniture, and cooked us meals, and checked up on us. Chloe and I are SO grateful for your kindness and hospitality! We feel very loved.

I have enjoyed explored the themes of “Beginnings and New Beginnings” with you all in our service and sermon times. In the last few weeks, I think we’ve all got a sense that God’s plans for us in Jesus are bigger than we think, and better than we can imagine.

And I keep coming back in my mind to the picture of humanity that Genesis 2 paints for us. It’s a powerful vision of what it means to be human under God’s rule. And I keep thinking, it’s so good to be human! So here in this article I’d like to just underline three parts to this “very good” vision of what God intended for humanity.

First, being a human means living within God’s life and love, and within the limits he sets for us. When God creates the first man in Genesis 2:7, the breath of life is the life that God shares with us. When God sets the first man in the garden in Genesis 2:9–16, God loves him by providing him all kinds of beautiful plants and delicious fruits. It is with this in the background that God sets limits for the man, speaking truth and wisdom to help the man live. We may have a tendency to focus on the limits that God sets on us as humans. But we shouldn’t miss the life and love God wants to lavish on us.

Second, being a human means living in a community with other humans. The saying, “no man [or woman!] is an island” is definitely true as far is Genesis 2 is concerned. It was not “good” or complete for the first human to be without another (Gen 2:18). The tasks God gave to humanity demanded that we have one another and rely on each other. We live within a community held together by promises that we make and keep to each other. This is what God intended for us! And it is very good.

Third, being a human means living to enjoy and expand the garden. We are not aimless as humans; we have a calling from God. We are not like a football team that only huddles all game long; we have a mission field in the spaces of our life. Our mission is to expand the presence of God in the spaces where he is not present. Our mission is also to watch people come fully alive as they respond to the presence of God in Jesus. We do this together in the power of the Holy Spirit, who lives inside of us.

I am grateful and glad to live in this community and pursue this mission with you all! Blessings to you all as you enjoy and expand the garden,