Garden City – Work, Rest, and the Art of Being Human

Recent years have seen many, many books addressing the contemporary desire of people wanting to find their ‘why’, and to live a purpose-driven life – whether from a psychological, spiritual, financial, or even social impact perspective.

Garden City falls within this genre, but its most valuable contribution lies in its lucid exposition of how to integrate work and rest.

Pointing out that the opposite of ‘work’ is not ‘sleep’, popular US pastor John Mark Comer reminds us of how important it is to rest well, shows how restorative this can be within a career and family context, and offers examples of how to embed rest into weekly life rhythms. “The Sabbath isn’t a cold, arbitrary rule we have to obey. It’s a life-giving art form that we get to practice… The Sabbath is a day for healing.”

However, Garden City is clearly aimed at a Western, upper-middle-class audience, and Comer himself acknowledges that he doesn’t properly take into consideration those who have fewer resources and opportunities. His conversational style sometimes reads like a catchy social media post, because his intention is to engage with the millennial generation. Still, he provides a Biblical, effective antidote to the consuming drive to “work more than ever before… and have more than ever before.”

Theologically bookending his argument with Genesis 1–2 and Revelation 21–22, Comer connects God’s original intent for humanity, through our daily realities in the here and now, with the expectation of glorious restoration in eternity. He challenges readers to recalibrate their lives, and “wake up to a God-saturated world.”

 

Review by Lise-Marie Keyser

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John Mark Comer