Genesis Day 6: What's your dog's name?
When you got a pet and it was time to pick a name, how long did it take? Seriously.
Our dog is named Bailey. He came to us named Whiskey, and we thought, “No, no… he’s not Whiskey.” So, we thought of about 5 other names.
How about selecting a name for a child? Even if you do not have children, I expect you have come across one or two new parents who agonize over this task.
Why is naming important to us? In some sci-fi movies and novels, humans are merely numbered. But that is fiction. I know dairy farmers; they name their cows - hundreds of them.
Naming is important.
There are two sides to the process. The person(s) coming up with the name, and the person (or creature!) who then lives with it.
When we name something, we connect with it.
God tells Adam, “Go and name everything!”
Everything. Okay, so how long did that take? Seriously. And before you again call me a literalist, I want you to consider again what the writer is inviting us to understand.
Try this thought experiment.
Let’s say you are given an animal farm—hundreds of animals. Your task: take care of them. Step One: name every one. Even today with Smartphones taking pictures of each critter, it would take a long time.
At the end, how would you feel? Tired, no doubt. But how would you feel about Ben, and Bob, and Fred?
They are now “more yours”—you named them!
Your relationship to this creation is beginning to become personal. Imagine how you will feel after you feed them for a few days.
Why do I write all this? Because some people, when they read God’s instruction to Adam to go and have “dominion” over the earth, miss the point. The point is go and take care of this big beautiful creation He has given us. Connect with it. Work it. Be in a Relationship with it.
Consider verses 2:8-14. Do you see God again at work? The language indicates God planted a garden. Ever worked in, or planted, a garden? Hard work.
Then God gives it to Adam, meaning He gives it to us—as a gift. He made it. He loves it. He has given us the responsibility to take care of His good—very good—world.
Here again I find Genesis 2 taking us deeper… relationally deeper… to how we are to connect with the world—and our work.
It was (and is) work to go and name another creature. It is good work. It is work that connects us.
I’ve used a word a few times: flourishing. My suggestion is that in Genesis 1 we get a sort of “bullet point” listing of how God has designed the world, and in Genesis 2 the text uses rich imagery to engage our imaginations. The text is inviting us to go deeper in our understanding.