Why Christians Should Garden
Have you ever found yourself saying things like, “I have a black thumb” or, “I kill everything I touch” or just simply, “I can’t garden”? Well, I am here to encourage you to not stop there and to see why, as a Christian, you and all of your spiritual brothers and sisters should be gardening.
What do I mean when I say gardening? I am referring to putting plants into soil and caring for that plant until it serves its intended purpose. That could be a vegetable or fruit tree bearing “fruit”, a leafy green offering a large bounty of salad, or flowering bushes and trees looking nice and bringing in pollinators. Some of these are temporary, some hopefully live for many years. But they all start with finding a location, filling said location with soil, planting seeds or transplants, and watering and pruning until they’ve lived out their life.
Biblically, gardening is caring for creation through the working of the ground or caring for animals for a specific purpose. In our particular context in Austin, TX we don’t quite have the ability to garden or “farm” animals. Although gardens do benefit from the use of small birds like chickens or ducks, and the city even has a rebate program for those who keep them. If you know me, you know that I tend to push “Creation Care” or environmentalism. This topic very well could have been titled, “Why Christians Should Care for the Environment/Creation” or , “A Call for Creation Care”, but I find that gardening is the most important part in this. When Christians reconnect to God through working the ground, they gain a new understanding for the earth and our calling. In turn, there will be a desire to care for God’s creation in all areas of life. For now, we’ll be talking about gardening.
Here are three of the major reasons why we as Christians should be gardening:
1 - We were made to garden. Yes, we were created to bring glory to God. But, the main way Adam and Eve did this was by caring for the garden of Eden and all things in it; plants and animals (Gen 2:15). To understand how this can be a God-glorifying thing, know that the garden represented God’s temple where he was worshiped but also met with creation. The Old Testament temple, and many in the Ancient Near East, were full of garden imagery. Humans would still be in this position, but sin sent them out of the garden and they would not reconnect with God personally until the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Get back to your roots (pun intended) and back into the garden as a way to reconnect with God!
2 - God is a gardener. Not only did God create all things on the Earth and in all of the universe, but he made everything look beautiful (Gen 2:8-10)! What is even more amazing than that is how the Earth keeps itself looking good as if it has all been programmed by a creator. God does not keep everything in chaos like the world was at first, but he keeps it in order and peace. We see this happening over the 7 days of creation. In Psalm 104 especially we see exactly how God cares for all of creation down to even the rock badgers. But simply observing a niche of creation on a nature walk shows that God was not only in the details of creation, but he is active in making it all work. That all said, when he put us on this planet he expected us to care for it with him. This did not change at any point, but with the fall of man the earth fell into disorder. It is our responsibility to try and keep things in order.
We are to be like God
As God calls us to be holy as he is holy (1 Peter 1:16), or like him, we are to mimic his care for creation including plants and animals (along with humans). So if gardening, earth-keeping or creation care is a part of God’s identity, it should be a part of ours, too! Fun note - when Jesus was found to not be in the grave, he was found in... the garden! Not only that, but the women who found him had mistaken him as a gardener (John 20:14-15)! This is a look back at the garden that portrays Jesus as the new Adam, but instead of being the gardener who failed and brought death, he is the one who will succeed and bring life (1 Cor 15:21-22).
3 - Garden in expectation of the New Creation. So what is the point? If the earth will be made new when Jesus returns, why put effort in? Well, everything we do here is testing and preparation for what is to come, and according to Romans creation is waiting for us to bring rescue and hope (8:18-23). What we learn here we will be able to use in the days to come, but it’ll be even better (Matt 6:9-13, 33). The ground won’t be cursed! I look forward to the day when I can garden without being swarmed by ants or irritated by thorny bushes and trees. Our gardening should point to God in this time and point to what is to come as we look back on what God has done for us. This is a great way to share the faith with non-believing gardeners, as well as other Christians who refuse to garden. But also, God wants to care for the earth together. We know he cares for the birds of the field, and we can clearly feel him presence in a thunderstorm,
but he invites us to have dominion over the planet with him. He can do everything himself, but how wonderful that he let’s us be a part of it all!
Whether it is growing plants on a windowsill, growing herbs and spices in a raised bed, working in a community garden or even running a farm caring for all kinds of plants and animals, we should be getting our hands back into the dirt. This brings a sense of joy, peace and fulfillment as we work our hands to bring glory to God. We are also showing a glimpse of what God intended creation to be like as humans, animals and plants work in harmony. You are probably going to fail a bit. Maybe a lot. But that is how we grow and this is what God wanted us to be doing. Before you know it you will become so good at growing one thing that you’ll want to grow another ten things. Then one day people will be calling you a gardener, and someday you’ll be able to share fresh produce with your family, church, and neighborhood. Imagine each member of a local church bringing different produce to share to church every Sunday? We may never have to grocery shop! So, grab your gloves and trowel, pick up some dirt and seeds, and get out there in the garden.
If you’re looking for a place to start, consider joining the ECC Community Garden ministry, Good Soil Community Garden. There are no requirements to join and those with no experience are welcome. We have open plots ready to be planted. Aren’t able to join the garden? Contact me at email@example.com with any questions you might have about gardening so you can get started.
Pastoral Assistant & Creation Care Ministry Leader