Paul Poulton reflects on how we can feed our spirit

Paul Poulton
Paul Poulton

We know roughly where the garden of Eden was because Genesis chapter 2 informs us that four rivers meet up close to the garden. Two of the rivers have ceased to flow but the rivers Tigris and Euphrates are still rolling along, they presently connect 110 miles northwest of the Persian Gulf.

Adam had been working in the garden, which was irrigated well, but Adam lost his position in the garden so all the fruit and nut picking and managing the rich produce that the garden provided came to an abrupt end. The garden was to be left with no one managing it. Adam would now have to eat plants or crops that grew in the earth and not from trees, and he was told that he would eat bread by the sweat of his brow.

"Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken" (Gen 3:23).

Adam became a tiller of the ground. Wheat and barley cultivation was now his new job. In Adam's day the process of turning wild grass into wheat was a relatively new technique. The Neolithic farmers of Mesopotamia played an important role when they repeatedly harvested the stronger stalks and larger grains of grass and then sowed only the stronger grains, which eventually led to the creation of domestic strains of wheat that we all enjoy today. Many clay sickles for harvesting the crops have been found from the area dating from the 5th millennium BC. One of the clay sickles has ended up in my local museum, I sometimes stand and gaze at it thinking, "I wonder if Adam ever used that one!". The Iraqis have excavated Eridu (one of the first cities from the area) and have found remains of wheat and barley ovens for baking bread.

Bread became a prominent food in large parts of the world and is one of the oldest cultivated or man-made foods. And yet we are told that, "Man does not live on bread alone." Humans need more to live and I'm not suggesting that we put a little jam on the bread. No! We need bread from elsewhere.

Humans have a spirit, a heart. We see that in many ways: when a young man tells his girlfriend that he loves her with all his heart, he doesn't mean that he loves her with his blood pump. (If he did I don't think it would go down too well.) He means something else, something at the core of his being.

You are a human being, how do I know that? I know it because dogs and cats or other animals aren't reading this blog. Humans have the ability to reason, animals have instinct, and for the large part instinct serves them well. But humans and humans alone have the stamp of God upon us, we are made in his image. What country we come from, or what shade our skin is, or what the size of our frame is, matters not. We are told in the first chapter of Genesis that we have been given dominion over the animal kingdom, (something we should take seriously with care and compassion) but we have not been given dominion over each other, so human slavery is ruled out in the first chapter of Genesis.

Being human is a privilege and a responsibility. We need to care for the needs of each other and ourselves both physically and spiritually.

Jesus said, "I have food to eat that you do not know about." What is this food? It is the bread that feeds our spirit. If all we ever do is feed our bodies and appetites with materialism we leave the human spirit hungry, and in some cases starving. We can try to feed it with TV, entertainment, hobbies, work and social gatherings but none of those pursuits quite cut the mustard or bring home the bread.

When Martha was disgruntled that her sister Mary was sitting listening to Jesus she complained, so Jesus told Martha that she was letting frustration get to her and said, "only one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen what is best" (Luke 10:42). Mary was feeding her spirit, something we would all benefit from. CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.