Reflections on Redemptive Agriculture:
The Earth and All It Contains
Written by Christina Miller on January 23, 2014 in Redemptive Agriculture
As a staff at Plant With Purpose, spiritual integration is foundational to the work we do. It preserves our broader vision, keeps us grounded, and creates unity as a team. It also reminds us that the ways we hope to serve the world begin with our own inner transformation. It means letting Jesus take hold of our lives one day at a time, moment-by-moment, seed-by-seed, tree-by-tree.
This spiritual integration can be seen in our work globally. In Tanzania and San Diego, we are going through a series created by Food for the Hungry, Inc., called “Redemptive Agriculture: Working the Land God Entrusted to Us.” It is helping us see how scripture is tied into the tangible things we work with like soil, crops, water, and animals. And it keeps bringing us back to the questions, what does it mean to be part of this interrelated cycle of creation? How is farming itself part of the redemptive, reconciling work of God?
David Evans, former president of Food for the Hungry, says, “Agriculture and God’s revelation through His Word go hand in hand.” This can be seen in the Biblical mandate to develop creation in order to produce bounty and fruitful resources. As stewards of creation, we play an important role in “bringing God’s Word and His kingdom to bear on the land, animals, and neighbors that have been entrusted to [our] care.”
We invite you to join us on our journey through reading our series of monthly reflections, as we seek a deeper understanding of the Biblical principles behind our work. We believe this will be a meaningful opportunity to become more faithful stewards of God’s redemptive purposes for all of creation, and lead us to deeper transformations in our inner lives. Let’s get started with a look at God’s role in the earth and all it contains…
“Redemptive Agriculture” Week 1: The Earth and All it Contains
After I graduated from college I spent three months teaching English with a Christian organization in Tanzania. Every week I selected a Bible verse to have my students memorize to help them learn new vocabulary. It was always a fun challenge to find verses that were short, meaningful, and helpful for their language goals. My class was comprised of forty East African adults, with a handful from the local tribe Maasai. The Maasai are a semi-nomadic tribe in Kenya and Tanzania, rich with unique traditions and culture. My Maasai students often wore their traditional red checkered blankets tied with thin leather belts, sandals made out of recycled tires, and had markings on their checks. They called themselves warriors and some boasted of killing lions, owning herds of cows, and drinking blood ceremoniously. They mostly talked about these things to get a reaction out of me, their stories were so different than my own that they never failed to provoke exclamations and questions.
Part way through the course I was reading through the Psalms and the verse stood out to me, “Who is the King of glory? The Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle” (24:8). I presented it to my class who quickly caught on. We recited it together, creating a song-like momentum to these words that carried so much power.
Sometimes we forget that we have a “King of glory” who has established all of creation. We often get burdened with the responsibility of caring for a world that has brokenness, disease, and injustice without remembering that it is first and foremost the product of God’s design, provision, and strength.
Psalm 24 begins by saying, “The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it.” Likewise, the Bible begins with the declaration, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). Who is this God who created the heavens, the earth, and all that is in it? Who is this King of glory?
In week 1 of “Redemptive Agriculture,” we were challenged to see God as the creator of everything and our role as stewards within it. For many people this is a difficult topic, as we struggle to actually have ownership over our resources. Many of our partner farmers work for landowners, many people in the states can’t afford to buy houses, and most people rent their workspaces. But the Bible says that God is the ultimate owner of the land and the creator of everything in it. This shifts our focus from our immediate struggles and helps us look up. “The earth is the Lord’s,” we breathe in as we toil over our day’s work. “The Lord, strong and mighty,” we exhale as we release our part to a God who is much bigger.
As we commence our study on farming and creation, let us remember that we work for a good, just, capable, and merciful landowner. Our stewardship is to a God who is such a mighty warrior—whose strength of love and shalom restores all of creation to its right order—that even the lion will lie down with the lamb.