Some say I have a problem with coffee; I say I’m just enjoying a crucial part of God’s common grace to mankind more than the next man. In fact, I could give you a number of arguments why coffee is an important staple for all. For one, studies have shown that men who drink a lot of strong, black coffee reduce their risk of certain types of cancer. Second, coffee has been known to make the mind sharper and make people more productive, especially in the morning. Third, we all know that we’re supposed to drink a lot of water each day, and well, coffee is simply flavored water-so there you have it. Shall I go on?
In all seriousness, coffee is definitely a popular thing in our society, so much so that people will virtually take out a second mortgage in order to make sure they don’t have to give up their daily latte. So why the buzz (no pun intended!)? Well, I am not a coffee snob or connoisseur, but I’ve been drinking uncool coffee (like Folgers) since back in the day when coffee wasn’t cool, so I know a bit about the subject. Without going all psychological on you, I believe that there is something about coffee that’s deeper than just good Joe for most people, and it is the fact that coffee brings people together. Think about it: how often is coffee at the center of a meeting between two people or a group of people who are talking or studying or just hanging out and listening to some wanna-be with dreadlocks singing folksongs? The genesis of coffeehouses was the bringing of people together. In the Ottoman Empire and later in Europe, coffeehouses were places where the common people would come together to talk about politics, to play board games, and to hear speeches. Starbucks commercialized the coffeehouse idea in America with a clean, cool, trendy, “two pumps of caramel in your latte with a cake pop to go” sort of place. Ever since, “Let’s get together for coffee” has become part of our common, everyday language. Food and drink have always been a central part of bringing people together, including Christians (e.g. Acts 2:46). Sharing a meal or a good cup of Joe is a relational thing which all men readily appreciate because we are relational beings who are made in the image of the relational God. As we noted in the previous post, we were created not only to reflect God’s glory, but to have a relationship with Him. As important as this relationship is, we must not overlook the fact that we were created to have relationships with other people as well.
We’ve noted that Genesis 2 is a zoomed-in look at the sixth day of creation, and that verse 18 is the first time we see God pronounce something of His creation “not good.” God made Adam, placed him in the Garden, gave him boundaries for a relationship with him, and all seemed well, but the thing that was not good was the fact that man was alone. So what does this mean? First of all, it means that man is incomplete without other people.
Obviously Adam was not completely alone because he had perfect fellowship with God and he had the animals (I mean a dog is a man’s best friend, right?). But what was missing was someone that was a perfect companion–someone “fit” just for him. The idea of the word “fit” or “suitable” (NASB) is “corresponding to.” God would make Adam someone who corresponds to him, someone who would perfectly complement him and complete him. This perfect companion would be his “helper.” Many people struggle with this concept of the woman as a helper and therefore either reject it or try to redefine what God is saying here. But their response is due to a misunderstanding of the concept. It is enlightening to note that the same Hebrew word translated “helper” in this passage is used of God Himself on a number of occasions in Scripture (e.g. Deut. 33:29; Ps. 33:20; Ps. 124:8). If Almighty God, the Maker of heaven and earth would gladly be called Israel’s Helper, then how could this title possibly be demeaning to women? The woman’s designation as “helper” concerns her role, not her importance or worth or status. Rather than demeaning, the role of helper is considered to be the greatest of all roles one could be assigned (see Mark 10:42–45).
It was not Adam who realized that he needed a companion helper, it was God. And in order to press this need home for Adam, he first paraded all of the animals in front of him to name. This process would have forced Adam to study each creature carefully and to assign it a name that was consistent with its characteristics. As he was finishing up the task, he realized that “there was not found a helper fit for him” (v. 20). God not only pointed out the need to Adam; He provided the solution by performing the first surgery. He put Adam into a deep sleep, perhaps something like what the anesthesiologist does for you when you get your wisdom teeth out…you know, where you’re so out you don’t remember anything when you wake up and you’re drooling and mumbling things that don’t make sense and telling your mom you love her over and over! Well, while Adam slept God was not removing his wisdom teeth, but He did remove a rib, and after closing him up, God set out to “fashion” or literally, “build” a woman from it. This is extremely significant because this is the same God who spoke the entire universe into existence; He could have easily just spoken Eve into being. But He didn’t. Instead, He formed her out of part of Adam, making her intimately connected with him, and therefore when God presented the woman to Adam and he saw this perfect companion for the first time, his response constitutes the first words of man recorded in scripture, “This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” The phrase “flesh and bone” came to signify family relationships, and this is really what we have here. Adam and Eve were related to each other as man and woman. Woman was created for man, to be his perfect, complementary, corresponding, completing companion and helper, and she was created from man, to be intimately connected to him as his counterpart of the human race.
As seen in verse 24, the natural outcome of the first man and woman was marriage, which is a picture of the most intimate of all relationships. The “one flesh” concept is much more than sexual relations between the man and the woman; it is an intertwining of their lives in every aspect, so much so that some have called it a “re-joining” of the two who came from the one flesh. This of course does not mean that a person who is not married is not completely human. Singleness is praised not only by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 7, but our Lord Jesus (Matt. 19:11-12). Nevertheless, every human being, whether married or not, needs some sort of relationship with the opposite sex. In fact, as we see from the record of Genesis and our own experience down to this day, each of us has a father and mother, which brings us to the second truth we understand from God’s statement, “it is not good that the man should be alone” (Ge. 2:18): It not only means that man is incomplete without other people, but that others are impossible without man. We understand this not only from Scripture (e.g. Gen. 5:1-3), but from experience. Marriage certainly has other, even more important purposes than procreation, but this is certainly one of them. Through marriage come children, additional divine image-bearers (see James 3:9). Whether we know our biological parents or not, we needed them for our life, and we need relationships with members of the opposite sex in general. But even beyond parents, the creation of the family that we see in Genesis 2 is the beginning of all sorts of relationships which will come as a result, like parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, spouses, children, step siblings, second cousins twice removed, and on the list goes–and these are only family relationships! Add to these friends, acquaintances, neighbors, coworkers, and the list grows larger and larger. In each of these relationships each of us has various roles: we are sons or daughters, brothers or sisters, moms or dads, aunts or uncles, grandmas or grandpas, friends, neighbors, students, coworkers, citizens, etc. And in each of these roles we have responsibilities and privileges; in all of them the unity and diversity of mankind is seen in how these roles are fulfilled as male and female. All of these relationships fill up our lives and complete us, and this is by the design of our wise Creator. We are relational beings. We need others who are the same and yet different than us. Guys, we need moms and sisters and most of us need wives at some point. Gals, you need dads and brothers, and most of you will need husbands someday. We all need friends who like what we like and friends who are different. We must appreciate and learn from others who don’t look like us or live like us or talk like us. We need to embrace the fullness of the image of God in man, and where that image falls short of His glory because of sin, we need to be His ambassadors to tell others about the redemption that is in Christ. You see, we must recognize that not only do we need others, but others need us. It is a sin to isolate ourselves from others. It is sinful for us to want others to leave us alone or to always be looking for a way to get away from people. Certainly there are some of us who are wired differently and our personalities either lend themselves to being “people persons” or “loners,” but we cannot hide behind our personalities. The fact of the matter is that it is natural for us to be relational beings, and we need to proactively seek out good, godly relationships with others, not just with those who are just like us, but with young and old, cool and uncool, black, white, red, and purple…and certainly male and female!