When God created the world He had nothing to work with. No pre-existing matter, no basic framework, no blueprints. Instead, He spoke the universe into existence through His own Son—the Word of God, who would also come to redeem what man attempted to wrest out of God's hands in the Garden of Eden, to return it perfect and completeto the King of Heaven.
That thing man tried to steal goes by many names, but all of them can be condensed into one word: control. It's a word that sticks in our throats, makes us squirm, conjures bad associations, bad memories, bad connotations. In the Garden, God gave mankind limited control of the world, telling Adam to take dominion of it, to use it for good purposes as he and Eve filled it with children, replicating the image of God throughout creation.
Total control, however, God reserved for Himself. It was never part of His plan to make us wholly autonomous, without need of His omnipotent mercy and power to guide and sustain our lives. So, He simply told Adam and Eve never to eat of the Tree of Knowledge, because when they ate that fruit they would die. It was the Law of God reduced to its central element, obedience.
Obedience which would lead in turn to blessing, and blessing to eternal life, and eternal life to perfect union with God. Instead, the first people believed the empty words of Satan, forsaking God's Word and turning instead to the created world for wisdom, for shelter, for their needs. God was no longer the center of their universe and, justly, He punished them for it.
Chaos is the heritage each of us inherits from our first parents, chaos and rebellion, a selfish desire for plenty and for leisure, a hatred or an idolization of work....in short, everything that is bad and unholy. The only thing that can be done with chaos is to organize it, to make sense of the madness and to put things right. Unfortunately, our human nature pressures us to find the means within ourselves or within the creation itself to straighten things up, and that simply doesn't work.
Adam's rebellion in Eden was of cosmic proportions. What God had made without flaw was suddenly inherently flawed, the Word that He spoke so eloquently was lost in translation, and the goodness was now tainted, mixed with a destroying evil that makes all of us born blind. For such complete and deadly disease, the only true remedy is a divine remedy, trust in God to put things back together through His Son, not faith in our own abilities, in scientific progress, or in political agendas.
So the situation is at once bleak and the opposite of bleak: Man is at war with God, tearing down the perfect order flowing from the Trinity through his very efforts to put things together again, yet able in an instant to put down his weapons and surrender to Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, who has already put everything to rights through His propitious death on the cross and His triumphant resurrection and ascension into Heaven.
And yet, even those who've surrendered, even Christians are still affected by the chaos of sin, even in our most private moments, even in the one place that is supposed to be a refuge from the maelstrom—the home. Sin and its effects crop up in little ways, like a messy bedroom or a leaky fawcet, and they loom in bigger, nastier ways, like bickering, divorce, and neglect.
Our mandate as God's people to take dominion over the earth, to exercise our limited control over creation, wasn't revoked when Adam decided to do things his own way. It still binds the Church as a whole, as well as its individual members, and it means we must live our lives in an orderly fashion, not in the chaotic manner that typifies rebellion against God.
What better place to foster orderliness than in the home? We begin the work of stewardship that dominion entails by keeping our homes clean, feeding our families, repairing cars and bad roofs when necessary, staying healthy and fit, and generally establishing a degree of order when and where we can. We only do this by God's grace and Christ's strength, but do it we must.
Orderliness in the home is one of the best ways we can help translate thetranscendant yet knowable Word to a terminally illiterate world. If our neighbors see us living in squalor, unhealthy, lazy, and careless, they'll have no reason to think we're fighting the good fight, that we're concerned at all with the order of God as opposed to the confusion of man.
It takes work, but what that is valuable doesn't take effort? The Christian life is consistently described in the Bible as striving, a fight, a struggle, even a hardship and a burden. Does baking your own bread take more time and work than buying a loaf at Safeway? Absolutely! But if that's the difference between healthy kids and sick ones, it's a sacrifice we should be willing to make.
This doesn't mean that we have to "go back to the earth" like a bunch of hippies. In Genesis, the ground was cursed, humans were required to wear clothes, and the universal diet was expanded from exclusively vegetarian to include meat and dairy. Modern technology shouldn't be shunned for its own sake, nor should we automatically assume all-natural is always better. But we also shouldn't automatically opt for the easy route, the handy, or the expedient. We should look for the right way to do things.
Different families will interpret this in different ways, and that's fine. What's important is that they wrestle with the issues, that they model their family life on biblical principles and understand the value of doing things for yourself rather than always (and instinctively) letting someone or something else do them for us. Does everyone have to master the art of at-home baking? No, but you shouldn't eat every meal at restaurants, either.
Only God is capable of making all things new, of redeeming what was lost, of creating and recreating. But He hasn't switched us all on like a bunch of robots to complete specific tasks; He still makes us in His image to exercise our will to do His work and to bring the good news of His Son to a lost and dying world.
How do we expect to successfully bear this message if our own homes are disordered and chaotic? We can expect no such thing, and so our only option is to do the work of home management to the best of our ability and for the glory of His Name. You'll find a variety of books in this section to help you with everything from finances to house cleaning to making cheese. These aren't simply hobbies or ends in themselves: these are the little acts of service we perform in deference to our loved ones and as worship of the One who gives us every good thing.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur.Read more of his reviews here.
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