To Serve and Protect

Steven Bouma-Prediger

READ : Genesis 2:8-15

The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. (v. 15)

Do the police where you live sport a motto? If so, what do they say? When I lived in Chicago, I took pleasure in knowing that on the side of every police car was part of a Bible verse. For on every Chicago police car it said: TO SERVE AND PROTECT.

“To serve and protect” is a more accurate rendering of the last part of Genesis 2:15. God took the human earth-creature (‘adam from the ‘adamah) and placed us in the garden to ‘abad (“to serve”) and shamar (“to protect”) it. That’s our job as humans: to serve and protect the garden that is the earth. Our calling is to be creation’s cops, serving and protecting this our earthly home so that it and we may flourish. Our God-given vocation is to bring about shalom – that rich Hebrew term meaning not only the absence of conflict but the flourishing of all things.

To serve and protect, to foster shalom – that’s why we humans are here. How are we doing? Are we faithfully fulfilling our calling? Are we serving others and the earth for its own good?


O Lord of peace, make us aching visionaries for shalom. Help us to serve and protect this your wondrous earth that your will may be done.