This is a beautiful analogy and reflection of André Houssney about biblical stories based on the planet care.
In these days close to Christmas Day we must remember that God comes to the world to teach us more about the love for everything that surround us.
“Give a man an acre and he will create a garden, rent a man an acre, and he will create a desert.“ Owners feels responsibility for, and the desire to improve and invest in a property, a renter, or hired hand, feels no such responsibility and, in fact, expects others to keep up the property.
For some reason, many Christians have chosen the word “stewardship” to refer to their relationship with creation. While better than the thief, the steward, or hired manager, is not the model that the Bible promotes for us. The Christian model of human’s engagement with creation ought to be that of heirs.
Heirs of Creation
In the book of Genesis, God has gave to human beings the responsibility of ownership and even heirship over the earth. The book of Genesis tells us that God created the earth and it’s creatures, He blessed the animals he had made, the birds, sea animals, livestock, microbes, and wildlife. He called these things “good”. Adam and Eve, and by extension ourselves, are to be seen as the ‘owners’ or ‘rulers’ of the earth and it’s animal and plant communities. Just as the owner of a house cares for and invests in his or her property, we are to care for and invest in that which God has himself loved, invested in and has given to us.
Jacob and Esau
Esau was a hunter, his younger brother Jacob was a herdsman. A hunter lives by subtracting from the wild herds that form the base of his living, a hunter neither owns nor looks after the animals on which he relies. The hunter lives by taking, not by building.
A herdsman, by contrast, multiplies the base of his living. He cares for and looks after each animal, of the females he keeps all those that have acceptable qualities and raises them to the best of his ability so that they will become productive mothers. The hunter is a thief, a herdsman is a builder.
Our human society has become an Esau society. We have despised our beautiful birthright and traded it for a quick meal. In a Christ-like way Jacob runs to the well and rolls the stone away. He waters the three ﬂocks of sheep. Even though these animals do not belong to him, he acts as if they do (and eventually some of these ﬂocks do become his). Jacob is a good-shepherd, he knows how to care for animals and to bring an increase. He has observed nature, watching the seasons and the growth patterns and life of the animals and plants in his area, he has discovered what makes them succeed, he applies his observations tirelessly and over the long-run. He perseveres, observes and improves his ﬂock and that of his father-in-law and he improves the land as well. The Jacob is the one who brings an increase by diligence and obedience.
Cain and Abel
Lord said to Cain “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground. And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened it’s mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it will no longer yield to you it’s strength. We ﬁnd that Man’s sin had resulted in the suffering of the earth and that degradation in turn impacts human communities. Yet in Cain’s cry we hear an anguished sorrow “Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is more than I can bear. Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence.” The loss of his inheritance through his own sin is at the root of his anguish.
Restoration and Regeneration
We are heirs of the earth, it is our inheritance, yet we behave less like owners and more like thieves. Rather than seeing the environment as a resource to beexploited, what would happen if we saw the environment as an investment to be nurtured? What kind of an investor would buy a building and begin stripping out all the wiring, nails, wood and stones to sell as building materials? Isn’t the sum more valuable than the parts?
The problem in the way we interact with nature is that we take too little ownership, not too much. We must become good shepherds of creation, In John 10:12-13 Jesus spoke about the value of ownership “The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the ﬂock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.” It’s time for us to recognize our position as children of God and owners and heirs of the earth.
As we take up the work of being the rightful owners of a damaged property we must recognize that we are not alone in this project. John 1:3 reminds us that all things were made through Christ. If we look to his creation as a model we can become restorative managers of creation. Jesus, who is able to absorb the sins of the world, has provided, in nature, the principles of restorative agriculture which we can apply to begin to heal the things that have been broken.
The techniques and principles of restorative agriculture are derived from a recognition of the high value, complexity and design of natural systems and an attempt to mimic them in a human agriculture system.
“The Lord reigns…. Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it. Let the ﬁelds be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy. Let all creation rejoice before the Lord, for he comes, he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his faithfulness.