Cultivating the Earth

“If the Holy Spirit is not only a preacher that convicts people of sin and grace, but also a gardener, an artist, and an investor in creation who renews the material world, it cannot be more spiritual and God-honoring to be a preacher than to be a farmer, artist, or banker…” - Tim Keller

As Christians, we are on a constant journey, but we know the end. The end is a new heaven and a new earth. The end is described in Genesis 1-3 as a garden.
And according to Revelation, we are on a journey… back to the garden.
Unlike other major religions, Christianity does not promise destruction of the world but restoration of it. This is good news. The beauty that we celebrate, the relationships we build, and the systems we improve upon are not for nothing. We are part of an eternal restoration; we are in preparation for a grand welcome home party of a prodigal Earth.
What does this mean practically?

  1. The environment matters.
We are not on a mission to throw this world out as fast as we can and get a new one. We are in the redemption business with God. We are agents of restoration. This means that educating ourselves on environmentally conscious practices is divine work. It is kingdom-minded to recycle, compost, carpool, and consume mindfully. We are building toward eternity. 
         2. Reform matters.
The garden is the harmony of perfect order and perfect peace. Since the fall, we have been building broken systems. Broken schools, governments, churches, clubs, and committees are ancient and persistent. But our work to improve them is not in vain. In fact, it is completely necessary. Just as we live in broken bodies that are ‘wasting away,’ and we continue to take care of ourselves, we need to actively work toward healthier systems. The prejudice and pride that are at the helm of our most essential institutions are cancerous. This means that educating ourselves on social justice and taking action to the best of our ability is, you guessed it, divine work. Paul talks about this idea in Romans when he says,
“For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that  the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” - Romans 8:20-22

So, Biblically, we can acknowledge that a) the creation is in bondage to decay AND b) we are to fight for its liberation, freedom, and glory.
       3. Relationships matter. 
The intimacy of the garden is unmatched. The garden is the ultimate paradise of community and vulnerability. Adam and Eve did not have to set boundaries. They did not bring insecurity to the table. They trusted each other because they trusted God. We get to build this intimacy with God and one another. We get to invite others into restorative relationship.

So, what we do matters. Our work and efforts matter, but not as an end in themselves. Remember, we know the end. We are headed for a new Eden. And we are part of the solution. It is a wonderful paradox that is meant to free us from feeling paralyzed or prideful. Your work matters, but God has the final word. We march in joyful confidence in God’s great restoration parade as we cultivate the earth.

Author | Claire Jordan





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