Review of “Garden City: Work, Rest, and the Art of Being Human” by John Mark Comer

Working in vocational ministry, I often feel like I have heard many of the messages on the purpose of work and rest more times than I can count.  Yet, John Mark Comer, author and pastor in Portland, Oregon deviates from these common messages, offering new insights on key passages in Scripture which reshape a Christian perspective on work and rest.

Many of my students (especially those with a deep passion for nerding out to theology) have told me to check out John Mark Comer and his books.  Upon completing Garden City, I attended Catalyst in Atlanta, GA and was blown away by John Mark Comer’s eloquence, relatability, and immense intelligence.  This work is enlightening, practical, and creatively constructed.

Rest and the Brain (1)

Comer magnifies the two bookends of Scripture to piece together his thesis on work and rest.  He narrows in on key aspects of the Garden of Eden and God’s original calling and commandment for man and woman. He furthermore explains the concept of the “Garden City” to come or the New Jerusalem and how our lives will take shape in this future Kingdom.  Between the two of the Shalom that was and the Shalom that is to come, Comer offers a Biblical perspective of the role of work and rest in our lives and how we often convolute them.

“In a Genesis shaped worldview, all of life is worship.”

Garden City narrows in on the line we often draw between the “sacred” and the “secular.”  Placing one on a pedestal, demoting the other to menial.  Yet, John Mark Comer juxtaposes this predisposition with the life of Jesus who entered intimately into the secular and mundane in the fullness of the sacredness and glory of God.

“Sometimes a calling is staring us straight in the face.  We just need to make eye contact.”

He furthermore focuses on the idea of vocation and calling, a conversation many Millennials have wrestled with for most of our young adult lives, trying to pinpoint what exactly is our dream and how to go after it, especially when we are grappling with whether or not our dream lines up with God’s dream for our lives.  Comer explains that we, as image bearers of the Creator, are charged with the task of creating culture.  In this, I was taken aback by his relatability offering countless examples of avenues of work which can be worshipful whether its mothering, nursing, fashion design, hospitality, teaching, event planning, or marketing.

“Jesus’ way of living is about a seamless integration of life where the polarization of sacred and secular is gone.  All of our life is full immersion in what Jesus called the Kingdom of God.”

“If Image of God is every person’s job title, then cultural mandate is what we are actually supposed to do.”

Furthermore, Comer offers an unpopular charge to believers on our commandment to rest.  He elevates the role of our humanness and our limitations to remind us to take time to slow, savor, and taste and see that the Lord is good.  He highlights how Jesus modeled such rest and slowness in His life, while carrying in Him the fullness of God.

“Figure out what the work is God gave you to do and learn the art of saying no to good things.”

“Both underwork and overwork rob us of the capacity to enjoy God and His world.”

I highly recommend this read to all believers, specifically those wrestling with calling, work and life balance, or the Biblical call to rest.

Rest and the Brain

I will disclaim that Comer offers an interesting perspective on the ethics of military combat.  Some may be taken aback by this as I was at first as the daughter of a soldier, but don’t miss the main message at hand.


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Screen Shot 2018-10-12 at 1.57.56 PMMy name is Emily Katherine.  On this page you’ll find lessons I’ve learned through my own story.  You’ll find book reviews and recommendations.  And in between you’ll find a few resources I use in teaching middle school through college students.

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