Christianity is supposed to tell a better story, and I’m here to reclaim it.
God created, and all that had been made was deemed “very good.” Many Christians seem to bypass this part of the scriptures, choosing to begin their biblical narrative with the fall of humanity in Genesis 3. This does a grave disservice to the faith because it plants the presupposition (even if it’s unarticulated) that humanity’s brokenness is more important than their glory.
But our faith is one of a world made good: breathtakingly, awe-inspiringly good, marked by Genesis’ use of the Hebrew word טוֹב (‘tov’) to denote how God viewed creation. Tov doesn’t just mean good; that word is used so much in the English language that it’s lost much of its meaning. Tov is the highest, purest, fullest, most dynamic form of good there can be.
& God’s plan for redemption is not to throw out all of that good creation (including humanity) because of its brokenness. Rather, redemption means that God is at work putting things back together, re-creating this world and all its inhabitants to be tov once more.
Beloved, you may have been told by the Church all sorts of wrong stories about who you are. Maybe you’ve even been tempted to believe them. But here is the Good News: you were made GOOD. Tov. Exceedingly, incredibly good. At your core, that is who you are — don’t believe anything or anyone that tells you differently. And God has not given up on creation (though some days, I wonder if God should.) *That* is the better story, one that I believe with all my heart, one I’ve staked my very life on and one I’m committed to forever proclaiming. Christians, let’s start there, shall we?
After all, creation is our culture. So, what are we making?
In the account of Genesis 1, we read humanity is created in God’s own image and according to God’s likeness. In Latin, this is the “Imago Dei” — the Divine Image. This sets humanity apart from the rest of creation, which was created good but not implicitly with the Imago Dei.
Humans, then, are instilled with the same propensity God has to create. The anthropological link between agriculture and culture is fascinating, especially as we look closely at scripture. Genesis 2:5-7 notes humans were not created until AFTER the Garden was made *and* there was water, a necessary agricultural tool for cultivating it. God provided all the materials needed so humanity could cultivate, care for, and tend to the land — which is our mandate, evident in Gen. 2:15. Why would God command us to care for something that didn’t matter? Clearly, the created world is important to God, and it ought to be important to us, for we have been tasked with tending to it. From the Garden comes fields, then farms, then villages and towns. Our story begins in a garden and ends in a city — a beautiful, diverse, multicultural, multiethnic, and multilinguistic city.
We have been given the task of creating, progressing, growing, evolving, developing. Cultivation is seen in the way we humans grow crops and design buildings and raise children and write books. It’s in how we cook dinners for our families and make art and run for office and carve things from wood and fix broken pipes and volunteer at our kids’ schools. By doing this, we create culture; we make the world around us. Which means if we want a different world, we can make it. But we need each other; this creation was never meant to be something we do alone. We need mutual partnerships with our families and our neighbors and our communities so that we may all walk each other home.