Our theology affects everything, not just the parts of life we call “religious.” We live every second before God, so we should think theologically about every detail, from the majestic to the mundane.
A Familiar Structure
I have an intense, irrational hatred for yard work. I don’t understand or like this about myself, but I’d trade yard work for washing dishes, cleaning the bathroom, or doing laundry any day of the week.
And yet, instead of grumbling about this task, I should think about it biblically. Here’s my attempt to frame this work in the familiar categories of creation, fall, redemption, and consummation.
A healthy lawn and blooming flowers are beautiful. When God sends the rain and the sun and the yard explodes with color, it can be breathtaking.
We have a great lesson in the plant world: God brings life from the dirt. As Adam was created from the dust (Gen 2:7), so the trees, grass, and other plants grow by God’s good pleasure.
And, in his wisdom, God has called me to tend this space. I’m to work and keep what he’s entrusted to me (Gen 2:15), exercising dominion care in this small area. God asks me to labor and work so the land around me proclaims his glory.
In my flesh, I hate my yard. I am in the midst of a war, and I am losing.
I don’t enjoy cutting my grass, but that’s easy. It’s the weeding, pruning, planting, and tending I dislike. This is often difficult, unpleasant work.
This shouldn’t surprise me. The ground itself is cursed (Gen 3:17–19), and the weeds and thorns appear because of sin. The consequences of our rebellion spring from the ground, causing me pain (Gen 3:17). I sweat and ache as I beat back the thistles.
Yes, the ground is cursed. But there’s more to the story. The weeds and thorns have only so much power.
Jesus walked on this ground, and that changed everything. The wind whipped dust against his face and he got mud between his toes. Though he had power over all the land, he died and was buried in the earth. But the ground could not hold him.
The entire creation is damaged and cursed. Jesus came to shatter the curse, to bring restoration and reconciliation and renewal far as the curse is found.
This begins with the people of God, the pinnacle of creation. But Jesus’ resurrection affects everything. The defeated enemy retreats, and the spoils of Christ’s victory will roll downhill and flood all of creation with new life.
Under the curse, creation groans (Rom 8:22). It groans not just for redemption but for newness.
I groan. In Christ, I have new life. I have hope and the promise of God himself. But in the body I groan.
I age and ache and slump, but my body only tells part of the story. I grieve at my remaining sin. I see injustice and pain and grief and oppression and hate, not only in myself but in my community and throughout the world. I too long for newness.
And so we have a circle of sorts. I’m driven into my yard by newness—new growth to trim and new weeds to pull. But, if I’m thinking well, I spend more time dwelling on Jesus’ death and resurrection. He’s remaking me from the inside out, and he will fulfill the groan-filled longing of the creation as well.
Photo Credit: Rudy and Peter Skitterians (2014), public domain