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Genesis 2:7-8 AMP
then the Lord God formed [that is, created the body of] man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being [an individual complete in body and spirit]. And the Lord God planted a garden (oasis) in the east, in Eden (delight, land of happiness); and He put the man whom He had formed (created) there
To me, and I think to Adam, soil (the dust of the ground) is far more than what I walk on, dig up, or plant in. Soil is a strong legacy that reaches back to Eden in Genesis and forward to the new earth of Revelation. Soil is a fragile gift handed down in responsibility and rejoicing or in regret from generation to generation. Soil is an expected constant like stars, sky, and seasons, but often overlooked in its innate beauty. Part of the most beautiful and mysterious aspect of soil to me is that just like Adam, I can’t make it but I am inextricably tied to it.
Soil nourishes me, body and soul, in its continual giving and receiving of itself for me. It gives nutrients and water for plant growth and receives waste for global recycling. It’s almost like a picture of what Jesus does for me every day. He gives the nutrients of love, mercy, grace, hope, joy, strength, and peace to me while receiving the waste of doubts, fears, anxiety, selfishness, arrogance, distrust, and insecurity from me. And in His receiving of my waste, He is transforming me into a conduit to bring life to others starving for hope for today and tomorrow (see 2 Corinthians 3:18). All the while, He reminds me of who I truly am and belong to as reflected in Isaiah 64:8 Yet You, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, You are the potter; we are all the work of Your hand.
As Christians, aren’t we to be as soil to others in our lives? Giving out the many good gifts we receive from our Good God while being a safe place to receive the (often unfiltered) words or thoughts of those trapped in the waste of sin. To give hope while receiving the harvest of sin in disappointment, hopelessness, discouragement, and despair from others. To receive the waste and to return them as nutrients transformed by trust – both in actions of loving care for them and words of loving truth to them. Actions in service – seen and unseen. Words of encouragement – in prayer and conversation. (I have to remember and remind myself that listening is a beautiful service of love poured out to and for others.) Grace is given to us for it to be given out by us. Grace given in service cultivates community where community refers to both the numbers and maturity of those in the Body of Christ. As Christians, we have been sent into all the world for all time (see Matthew 28:19-20).
The ones to whom we’ve been sent to serve are the ones who need us most and need us now. They are the ones who need the grace given and received in what is good and hard, respectively. It’s easy to give and receive from those who are grateful, kind, and loving. Such people already have fertile soil in their souls from grace. Yet the ones who aren’t easy to love, give, or receive are the ones whose souls need us to give them what they lack in nutrients of grace, mercy, and love. I think this principle is exemplified in Matthew 25:40 “And the King will answer them, ‘I assure you: Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me’ and Luke 14:13 On the contrary, when you host a banquet, invite those who are poor, maimed, lame, or blind.
Service done solely for my Savior nourishes the soil of others’ souls in the giving and the receiving. Both the giving and the receiving are needed for cultivating community. And both the giving and receiving can be overlooked, unseen, or unknown as like the acts constantly occurring in the soil environment every day under my feet. My acts and words might easily be forgotten or overlooked by any other than the One Who prompted me to do them as He prepared in advance for me to do (see Ephesians 2:10). Yet those acts and words can prepare the way for greater works which point back to Genesis and forward to Revelation, because they display Jesus as the second Adam (see Romans 5:14 and 1 Corinthians 15:22). The One given to replace sin with righteousness and reunite man with God again (see 1 Corinthians 15:45). The One Who knows best how and where to cultivate community through gracious service.
Dear Father God,
Thank you that You have a plan and purpose for everyone and everything. Thank You that You give joy for strength and hope for courage to keep following Your plan even and especially when it’s hard. Please help me to worship You in faithful service wherever You have put me and with whomever is in front of me. Please help me to seek Your Face in prayer for humility.
In the strong Name of Jesus,
here’s the link to Part 2 of cultivating community
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Written by and copyrighted to Beth Madison, Ph.D., 2022